I could hardly believe I was so fortunate. Since you can't know when, or if, an Orca might engage in this cetacean "spyhopping" behavior, it was unlikely that I'd have my camera pointed the right direction at the moment an Orca appeared ... but on the next-to-the-last-day of our photo safari, it happened!
Most of the phenomena a whale needs to know about goes on under the surface of the water, but when a curiuos new object appears, Orcas are quite capable of inspecting it both above and below the water's surface. Scientists suggest "spyhopping" is simply a case of indulged curiosity - when Orcas want to see what all the fuss is about at the surface, and the best way for them to do that is to hold their heads out of the water. Orcas have a rounded fish-eye and a highly mobile lens capable of dramatically changing its position, so they can see above the water about as well as you or I can.
When the whales appeared, Sheila and I tried to look every direction at once. We had been searching several days for whales and as we entered the northern end of the Johnstone Strait, whales were everywhere. I counted 20 Orcas at one time. It was one of the most amazing sights I've ever seen in the wild.
A couple of huge males were impossible to miss as they joined the pod of juveniles and females foraging for salmon. They were "resident" Orcas, members of the A 1 Pod and "fish eaters" all, cruising the inside passage feeding on its bounty of salmon runs.
Michael Bigg initiated the Orca Photo Identification Study, and the first whales he saw became the "A" Pod at the north end of the Johnstone Strait. He labeled pods B, C, etc, and by the time he got to the southern end of Vancouver Island the pods were J, K and L.
It's amazing, but despite their close proximity to one another, the northern and southern "resident" Orcas don't interact or interbreed, and (as far as the "residents" are concerned) the northern pods eat fish while the southern pods eat mammals.
Whether you say, "God made these amazing creatures," or you say, "God made these creatures amazing," you're right. And though I've seen them perform in the crystal clear waters of Sea World, I wasn't prepared for my up close and personal experience of the wild majesty, power and untamed splendor manifest in these magnificent marvels of God's imagination.
Lord, you have done so many things!
You made them all so wisely!
The earth is full of your creations!
And then there’s the sea, wide and deep,
with its countless creatures—
living things both small and large.
There go the ships on it,
and Leviathan, which you made, plays in it!