Nothing could prepare me for what I witnessed on August 6th, 2012.
The whale watching boat I work aboard encountered a group of resident orcas in the Gulf Islands. This location is not an unusual place to find these local orcas, but what they were doing on that particular afternoon was very special indeed.
The whole group, about 15 animals, was rolling around at the surface, all in a tight cluster, slapping their tails and spyhopping (poking their heads out of the water). There was something unusual going on, and it wasn't until I saw a tiny dorsal fin break the surface that I understood what was happening.
One of the females had just given birth, and her extended family was helping her support the barely 2 hour old calf at the surface. Not only that, but the orcas appeared to one by one pass the baby around, as if they were individually welcoming the newest member of their family to the world.
The excitement in this pod was palpable, and to witness such a "baby shower" was awe inspiring.
Message to Canadians: Our waters are playgrounds, hunting grounds, and nurseries for a vast network of amazing marine creatures. Only we can preserve it for them.