Monday, December 03, 2012


Whale sightings are most common from Ocracoke in November and December, so it wasn't too surprising when Amy called me two days ago from the beach to say that she and Laura had just seen a whale off shore. I am almost always ready to take a walk on the beach, especially this time of year, so I drove out to the "Lifeguard Beach" to take a look.

By the time I arrived the whale had apparently swum away, so we walked and chatted for a half hour. When we returned to the walk-over ramp we stood for a while, gazing out to sea, hoping we would get one final glimpse of this majestic creature.

Sure enough, we were quickly rewarded with a spout of water and air far beyond the breakers. Immediately afterwards the great dark form of the whale rolled up, out, and then back down. This was repeated a number of times. It was impossible to tell if we were seeing one whale, or several. And the display was too far out to get a decent photo.

If you are walking along the beach this time of year, be sure to pay attention to what's going on off shore. There are almost always plenty of dolphins to entertain...and occasionally leviathan pays us a visit also.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the day Charles Lindbergh landed on Ocracoke. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous7:30 AM

    Leviathan?!?! I thought they visited must often from mid-spring to early fall. They arrive usually via Swan Quarter, Cedar Island or on the north end of the island. They come in a mini-van or station wagon with a car top carrier loaded with rafts, umbrellas and beach toys. They usually smell of cheap sunscreen and try to drive on the beach with no permit and get stuck needing a tow! Leviathans are now commonly called...TOURISTS!

  2. bill kostar7:48 AM

    Don't feel badly, 7:30am.
    You're thinking of dingbatters, which can be confused with Leviathans, although upon closer inspection, the similarities fade.
    I've never seen a whale with a beach umbrella and a pulp novel!

  3. Anonymous8:29 AM

    Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. God did not give the island exclusively to the "natives". Such comments are very bad form indeed.

  4. Anonymous9:01 AM

    7:30 am hmm Cheap sunscreen? what kind of sunscreen do OI residents favor? If I were to visit --I would not want to offend the locals. J.C.

  5. Anonymous12:08 PM

    Philip, you did just fine describing the Ocracoke whale sighting without a photo. No signs of Jonah, huh? NC Mainlander just wondering....

  6. Anonymous4:01 PM


    Long-time readers here certainly know of the colorful phrase dingbatters, used good-naturedly (and sometimes less so) to describe island visitors, or at least a certain "type" of island visitors.

    In the interest of equal time, are you aware of a corresponding, equally expressive term used to describe islanders?


  7. Anonymous4:06 PM

    hey 7:30am

    there are a lot of readers here that visit this site daily. If it wasn't for US visiting, smelling bad and acting happy to be there on vacation everyone of you ocracokers would be living like you did back in days of no tourists. remember that dirt poor time in ocracokes history? easy to forget isn't it. look back at the pictures of those people living on your island, half of them had no teeth, dirty looking, poor trash, no hope for a better life. tourism changed your life you looser. don't bite the hand that feeds your family and keeps you alive. tourism is ALL you have there. the coast guard is gone. most of you forgot how to fish. go geeet yo'alls teeth fixed. it's on us.

  8. Anonymous4:25 PM

    This person is right. Our kids repeat over and over - "are we there yet? Are we there yet?" We come to ocracoke for the 'island' not the people. It may sound mean but it's a fact. We don't know anyone there so if you good citizens do not like us cheap smelling, getting stuck in the sand visitors - get over it. The more we visit the more you make $$. If you don't like us say it to yourselves not somewhere that our 12year daughter can read it then call us to read it and explain it to her. Your feelings on visitors was not cool. I'll bet you get a lot of $upport for your ocracoke museum from us, don't mess it up.

  9. Toni W.7:11 PM

    I too am a Touron, digbatter, leviathan who loves my visits to Ocracoke. I even dream of becoming an islander one day even though I know my roots won't ever reach the depths of those born there. I too, bristled at the post from Anonymous 7:30 am but then I realized that we don't know if this is an O'cocker or a dingbatter. I personally know that most residents welcome us dingbatters, smelly sun screen and all, to the island.
    So Anon 7:30 is entitled to his or her opinion of me, I will still be an islander for at least one week next year - and I can't wait.

  10. Some of us actually have made some great friends and acquaintances in Ocracoke... Obviously it requires more tact, and social refinement than a couple of posters here today... IMHO, of course.

  11. Just in case there is any confusion about what I wrote in this day's post, leviathan is a sea monster referred to in the Bible. Herman Melville, in Moby Dick, uses the word to refer to whales. This is what the word means in today's post -- simply "whale."

    Ocracoke is my home, and the home of many wonderful people. Like most islanders I look forward to the warmer months when many tourists grace us with their visits to Ocracoke. Sure, they bring income, but many also bring creativity, enthusiasm, fresh ideas, and friendships. I also look forward to the quieter winter months, a time for relaxation and reflection.

    Comments on this blog are intended to allow readers to ask questions, share insights, and otherwise learn more about Ocracoke and this community.

    I have no idea who posted most of the comments on today's article...islanders or visitors. But I agree with Robb, that genuine communication "requires more tact, and social refinement than a couple of posters here today."

    Please, let's keep our comments civil. I hope that Ocracoke, even from a distance, brings our readers peace, tranquility, and good will. Thank you.

  12. Toni W.8:16 PM

    Well said Philip!!

  13. Anonymous7:45 AM

    D.C. said...

    You are too kind.
    I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes: "Be kind to unkind people"...they need it the most."

  14. Anonymous10:49 AM

    Are there signs posted regarding the permit required to drive on the beach? Is there a sign posted informing visitors to avoid the beach unless a permit is in their possession? Are tourists allowed to purchase a permit. Are permits sold all summer long or is there a limited time to purchase a limited number of permits. Why are permits required to drive on the beach. Why do people drive on the beach is there no parking available nearby? Why is driving allowed if cars can get stuck in the sand?

  15. So many questions!

    Are there signs posted regarding the permit required to drive on the beach? Yes

    Is there a sign posted informing visitors to avoid the beach unless a permit is in their possession? Yes

    Are tourists allowed to purchase a permit? Yes

    Are permits sold all summer long or is there a limited time to purchase a limited number of permits? As far as I know, they are sold all year.

    Why are permits required to drive on the beach? Permits are required to implement the NPS's Off-Road-Vehicle-Use Plan.

    Why do people drive on the beach is there no parking available nearby? People drive on the beach in order to reach otherwise hard-to-reach areas, and to allow them to take fishing poles, coolers, ice, lawn chairs, umbrellas, and other items too heavy to carry for miles.

    Why is driving allowed if cars can get stuck in the sand? 4-wheel drive vehicles generally do not get stuck.

  16. debbie s.2:20 PM

    I love my friends on Ocracoke.

    I love the island of Ocracoke.

    I love the remoteness and simpleness of Ocracoke.

    I do not love the trolls that seem to frequent dear Philip's posts.

    I suppose some people have such miserable lives that their only enjoyment is acting nasty under the guise of anonymity - whether they be tourists, locals, or commonplace idiots.

  17. Anonymous4:47 PM

    this is so entertaining it should be on tv.

  18. Julie S.8:59 AM

    I agree wholeheartedly with Debbie S. We must make allowances for those folks who are so unhappy in their lives that they feel they must attempt to make others feel that way. But don't let them! Ignore them! Sad, but they only want attention! Thank you Philip for a most enjoyable journal!

  19. Anonymous3:26 PM


  20. Anonymous3:29 PM

    By the way, the local name for native islanders is O'cocker, pronounced just like it looks. The O'cockers call the island O'cock.

    You can be an O'cocker, a transplant, or a dingbatter. Or a Mexican. That's what we've got here.

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