I am told that it is one of those fears which others coin irrational, but my entire being resists the idea that orca whales are anything but wolves of the sea; apex predators too smart for their own good and horribly macabre killers in their own right.
A small tid-bit before I continue with my midnight marine madness, I will refer in this particular episode to a character known as Boogie. This is my mother’s father, my grandfather Jerry Barrett, who has known many names throughout life. This wonderful, lovely man I adore was coined Boogie by my young self. Having been born first, I was the namer of the grandparents, and having humorous parents, I was often told that if I didn’t stop crying they would give me to the bogey man, embodied by my wiry, tall as a tree grandfather. To me he was Boogie, and the name stuck fast, (I am crumb bum to him, a fair label I think).
I was on a family trip with my mom’s parents Grammy and boogie up north on the coast of the Puget sound. We ate a giant seafood meal in a restaurant by the dockside, watching the sun sink down and melt into the ocean. We then lazily walked out onto the wooden floating docks to smell the ocean. Boogie warned me that there were orcas in the water underneath us, but I was so enthralled with the beauty and calm of the evening that I moved in a daze, further and further away from shore. The orcas were out there, though the water was still, and all too soon I felt them begin to bump and agitate the piece of dock I was on. My mind went numb with fear and I suddenly realized that in all likelihood I was a seal entrapped by a pod, bobbing on my dock like a cork as I awaited the eventual wave-hunt that would throw me.
All to soon they succeeded in knocking me into the motionless, black void with them. Many times they brushed against me, my body shuddering at the cold oily skin, before one caught onto my dragging and soaked pant leg and pulled me swiftly through the water like an oar for a distance before letting me go. they were trying to dance with me, but I felt like the girl at the bar who’s put upon to dance against her will with the bearded, whiskey scented man who may or may not have a concealed weapon. I tensed my body like a startled deer, blinded by my fear as they tossed me about from one partner to the next. Slowly, the veil of my terror began to thin, and I realized an entirely different scene taking place.
The surface of the water was calm and dark rippling only slightly as the whales all took turns breathing, while underneath the surface bubbles rapidly formed in the wake of the twirling, dancing whales. The water had an eerie green glow, but the whales were magnificent. I lost all semblance of fear, reveling in the beauty of the scene, and counting myself lucky to bear witness.