We stood obediently in the sun. Each of us had paid $56 USD for a ticket to see the creature, but we understood that it was a game of chance. This fee was equal to some humans’ daily wage after taxes, but to others it was simply pocket change. The love of the creature extended to all these humans, regardless of economic status. Rich and poor, it was something they all shared.
I stood shuffling nervously. Nervous because I really wanted a lucky glimpse of the creature and also, because I hoped that the motion-sickness pills I had gulped down would work. The last time I had been on a boat, it hadn’t been pretty. And this boat was smaller. Much smaller. My fingers were crossed.
The men had lifted the gates now and we were all padding forward slowly onto the boat. I chose an outside seat. As a lone traveller, I had the advantage of squeezing into the end of a row on the side of the boat. Yes, outside would be better – for sight and for warding off sea-sickness.
The boat rumbled forward slowly, then took up speed after about five minutes. We were off! The adventure was on! Everyone scanned the dark waves anxiously, not wanted to miss any possible sightings of the creature.
Then a man shouted, “Over there! There’s one over there!”
We all looked. I held my breath as I saw the dark, shiny back of the creature break the water’s surface. We could all see about four or five feet of its back before it slipped back under. We still stood looking at the spot hopefully. Again! Its back appeared out of the waves.
Shouts of glee erupted. Men pumped their fists and cheered. It was a humpback whale.
While our boat floated in what were once popular seas for hunting the humpback whale, the creature was now revered by humans. Studied. Adored.
This buoyed mass of humans followed the feeding whale in circles for another hour. Catching more views of its back. But also of its enormous tail, as it flipped out of the water and loudly slapped back down.
Everyone was elated. Sedated.
The nervous tension no longer in the air on the boat ride back, the passengers chatted with each other. Some enjoyed a cold beer, while others less fortunate covered their faces while holding a bag to their mouth.
The boat docked and the humans began to file out obediently. The announcer reminded everyone that our ticket stub was worth a discount at the local restaurant next door.
Soon, the restaurant’s tables were full. The humans happily recounted their four-hour adventure to each other, while munching giddily on a different sea creature. One that had been freshly boiled to death for their dining pleasure at the cost of $28 USD.
Whale tail © Wikipedia Commons
Lobster meal © Julie Harrison