If I were to ask you, or most people, what your favorite animal is, I’m sure you, or most, would answer “cat,” dog,” or other similar such creature. My children have always thought me a bit strange because I have a great love for (they would call it an obsession with) elephants, sharks, and whales. Since I was a small child, I have always been fascinated by these three majestic creatures. When I was very little, I had a small collection of whales – glass figurines, stuffed animals, and such. As a teenager and young adult, I had quite an extensive collection of elephants – everything from clothes to glass and wooden figures to unique collectibles from around the world (gifts from friends and family). For Christmas a few years ago, my husband gave me a shark dive in Australia. It was the most amazing experience ever!
Recently, our family traveled up north and enjoyed a ferry ride to Nova Scotia. I was excited to discover that we would have the opportunity to see dolphins, porpoises, sharks and whales as we crossed the Bay of Fundy. The morning began enshrouded with a thick, white fog that wasn’t unlike the New England Clam Chowder the girls had enthusiastically eaten with dinner the previous evening. Aboard the ferry, we sat in the lounge, huddled in our sweatshirts and clinging to our warm tea and coffee. Hoping that the fog would lift, we waited for the announcement that it was the right time to observe the sea life.
When we were about an hour outside of Digby, we made our way outside onto the deck with cameras and binoculars. The wind was blowing so hard that it was almost impossible to even open the door. We stood on the deck, lined up along the railing, eager to greet whatever beautiful creature arose to bid us a good morning. The fog had lifted, but there was still a cold, misty chill in the air in spite of being mid-summer. The shores of Digby were ahead of us, barely visible on the hazy horizon. The Bay was calm as the sea birds dove below the water and then shot up into the air with their catch in their beaks.
After a while, the girls were cold and bored, and they decided to retreat back into the lounge and test the wifi (they are teenagers, after all). Ken and I stood on the deck in silence and kept watch on the horizon. As we neared the landing, we knew that our chances were growing slim to see any marine life. A ripple of excitement went through me as I sighted movement off to the left. Peering across the sea, I watched as a school of porpoises gently glided through the waves, their fins in perfect harmony with each other. Too fast in and out of the waves to stop for a picture, the porpoises swam on out of sight.
As we stood against the backdrop of the open sea while it rolled onto the approaching shore, I knew that we would see no whales today. The closer we drew to land, the thicker the fog became. What had cleared while out at sea was now drifting back toward us, covering the ferry with its mantle of white. At the very last minute before the call to return to our vehicles, I felt, more than saw, a stir out at sea, and I turned just in time to see a monstrous and majestic creature arise from the water. I suddenly knew how Ahab felt when he first laid eyes on the Great White Whale. My heart beat faster as I watched the beautiful animal clear her lungs with a mighty geyser that sprayed salty tasting droplets on the fascinated onlookers. As she began her descent back into the sea, her eyes locked with mine. Unlike the cold, dead eyes of a shark, hers were bright and full of life. An understanding passed between us, and I held my breath as I watched her sink into the water, the turquoise pool sliding over her shiny black body and hiding all traces of the magnificent creature.
I breathed for the first time in what felt like several minutes. I could scarcely believe what I had just witnessed. I couldn’t wait to tell the girls what they had missed. I’m sure you will agree that it was a moment to remember forever. Or perhaps you will realize that Melville and I have more in common than a love for whales.
Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s next mystery, Picture Me, will be released in August of 2015 and will be available in stores and online. Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.