Saturday, June 29, 2013


Among the Southern Resident Killer Whales, there is a matriline that has become adopted by the Samish Indian Nation. This matriline is in J-pod and the newest member has been named today. J-49 has been named T’ílem Ínges (pronounced “tēēlem ēēnges”), which means "singing grandchild" in the Samish language.

This naming ceremony was part of a potlatch--which is basically a gift-giving festival practiced in the Pacific Northwest and Canadian coastal tribes. There is a long history of potlatches (and the subsequent banning by both the Canadian and American governments) among the  native peoples of this area. 

As the nicknames of the whales are given out by the Whale Museum, Whale Museum staff was invited to this ceremony--and I was lucky enough to be granted an invitation!

Before the potlatch there was a canoe blessing ceremony--the canoes were given names and were then paddled around by members of the tribe.

After the canoe ceremony, there was a big potluck (also part of the potlatch) and then the naming ceremony began. Despite being reassured that it was okay to take pictures, I only took a few (and none of them were too good).

The naming ceremony itself incited many emotions in me. For one, it was a fascinating look into the blossoming culture of the Samish. Though I fully admit, I did not do much research before the ceremony, throughout the entire event, it was mentioned how the Samish lost most of their culture and were slowly regaining it. It was really touching when the elders leading the ceremony mentioned that they hoped that their young ones would grow with T’ílem Ínges and bring new meaning and life into the Samish Nation. At times it did seem to drag on, and there definitely could have been more projecting of voices (sometimes it was a little hard to hear the speakers!), but all in all, it was a truly enjoyable and memorable expereience. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Orca Sing

Not only did I work the morning shift at the gift shop today, but I also went to Orca Sing. What is Orca Sing? It's a festival where a couple of bands play at Lime Kiln State Park--and luckily for us, the whales were out during the show! That hasn't happened for over three years!


There were two whales, a male and a female. You can tell the male by his long, straight fin and the female by her more curved (and shorter) fin.

The male

The female

Soundwatch was out as well!

It's likely that these two whales are somewhat related--mother and child, grandmother and grandson, or sister and brother.

And there was Oliver, as well!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stinky Bill and the new fuzzies

Meet Stinky Bill. He's a yearling gray whale who washed up ashore in 1995 and was then re-purposed as a learning tool by the Whale Museum.

And then, meet our new guests--the kittens! They'll be living in the same office as me, and already have named me as their favorite human playset, so you'll be hearing about them a lot! There are four of them, all tabbies.

This is Very Rowdy

This is Very Fluffy (with Very Happy on the right)

This is Very Little

Very Fluffy and Very Happy

Very Fluffy again

Very Little is so tiny! Look at him compared to my foot!
You'll hear more about them throughout the weeks ahead!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Thar She Blows!

Well, after a long absence of over five days, the whales have returned! L pod was sighted today off the coast of Lime Kiln. While I had today off, Cindy has just gotten new foster kittens and they were at the museum, so I headed over. During that time, we heard over the broadcasted hydrophones--the whales were near!

We all packed into the car and drove to Lime Kiln where we saw L pod coasting along. I did not have my camera with me, but I saw a bitty baby!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sailboat Adventures

I was invited to join Jill and Bill on a sailboat adventure. Jill and Bill both work at the Whale Museum--Jill as the lady in charge of designing everything and Bill as a volunteer docent. Scott, another Wisconsinite, joined us as well. It was so much fun. The sailboat is Jill's--I call her Skipper Jill--but I got to steer it for a while!

Skipper Sarah -- but only for a couple of minutes!
Before we left, I got to see some baby jellyfish--they were so mini!


Scott, Jill, and Bill, my boating companions!


 There wasn't much wind, but while out on the water, I saw some pretty cool things.
We saw a seal out on the flat water

The ferry, heading to Anacortes

A peculiar rain-circle (opposed to the much more well-known rainbow)

The water
 By this time, I had settled into a comfortable position on the trip and then asked if, on the quiet waters, I could play some music. Everyone agreed, and thus I pulled out my phone and picked a song.

Those of you who know me are already probably reaching to hang your head in your hands, but I proudly admit it--I played Styx's "Come Sail Away." It was mood appropriate and I always appreciate a good pun. I wasn't thrown off the boat, so it wasn't that bad.

A house made of sod
And then we saw it--the elusive Mount Baker! Normally, when I had tried to see it in the past, it had been covered by clouds but now on a sailing trip, I finally got to see it!

Mount Baker arises!

Friday Harbor

More of Friday Harbor
 And then a water plane came down for a landing. We were so lucky to catch it!

 And then the ferry coming into Friday Harbor, with Mount Baker in the background.

Finally, we headed back to port, but I made sure to get a picture of me with Mount Baker in the background!