Saturday, February 12, 2005


In all the years I've lived on Ocracoke and walked the beach, only once have I seen a whale. No breaching of the great leviathan, no dramatic eruption of air from the blowhole, no massive flukes assailing the surface of the deep. Just the gentle rolling of a mysterious dark form, larger than any living thing I'd ever witnessed, moving steadily and deliberately just offshore.

At midday today a couple from Washington D.C. was even more fortunate. A large number of whales had congregated near the lifeguard beach and they were there to take it in. Food was obviously abundant, for great numbers of gulls hovered above the water and feasted on the hapless fish. Unlike my solitary visitor from the depths of the ocean, this pod of whales was active and animated. With binoculars the delighted couple watched for over an hour as the whales entertained them.

By the time I learned of our offshore visitors and made my way to the beach all was quiet. A few dolphins moved slowly south, and an occasional gull or willet flew by, but no whales ventured by. Maybe another time.

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