My experience had been lost in the minutia of thousands of days gone by, but this was no ordinary occurrence. While posting my memories of touring the Hawaiian islands twenty years ago, I suddenly remembered gazing into the eye of a massive whale. It was swimming on its side below me, curling along under the second-story bow of an excursion boat, off the coast of the Hawaiian islands. A guide called out, “AVAST (STOP is the modern equivalent), there’s a whale off the bow.” Everyone rushed to the bow railing. Fifty or more of us hung over the rail as the sleek, powerful body paused below to gaze up at us. With my usual good travel fortune, I was directly above its eye, down into which I stared. It was about the size of a baseball. I was analytically thinking that the eye was somewhat small for so gigantic a creature, when I realized that it was looking at me, that it could see me, that the whale was thinking about me. It was alive, perceptive, speculative! Oh, God! What a thrill! I did not know what to think about that. What a moment! Then some wiseacre yelled, “That’s the whale that splashed those other people off the boat.” And, monkey-hear-monkey-do, we all rushed back into the safety of the cabin. I ran with them, away from my only encounter with a whale in my life.
Whales are fascinating, with their sea-going capabilities down deep, far and wide, with their sheer size and momentum, and sadly with the foolish myths swirling around them. Try googling some old whale myths, they are appallingly misinformed, often violent and gruesome. Do those poisonous ideas from the past effect how we treat the mighty whale, or even how we maintain our oceans today? I prefer to learn about these members of the order Cetacea from:
http://www.alphawhalewatch.com/whales/10-fun-whale-facts/, http://www.whale-world.com/, etcetera.
Today whale watching tours are offered on the Kona-Kohala Coast of the Big Island, Hawaii. I sailed on the Navatek II in 1998, perhaps from the bow of that boat I gazed into the eye of a mighty leviathan.
Caption: I had an excusion on the Navatek II
commercial postcards and my ticket, 1998.