And God created great whales – Genesis 1:21
There’s just something about whales.
Largest animals on Earth. First animals mentioned in the creation story. They are air-breathing, warm-blooded mammals just like us. Majestic, yet mysterious. Because they spend their lives underwater and far from shore, many people never see these gentle giants.
I am fortunate enough to have watched whales eight times in four different oceans. But it was one exceptional encounter in Australia that changed my perspective entirely.
In 2000 my wife and I traveled to the land down under to run the Adelaide Marathon. Traveling that far to run a long distance, we made several side trips to explore this incredible country. One exciting highlight was driving the Great Ocean Road, a scenic coastal route between Melbourne and Adelaide. Passing amazing landforms such as the 12 Apostles, London Bridge and Loch Ard Gorge, it features spectacular natural arches and grottoes.
Although the weather was stormy with heavy winds and pelting rain, we stopped frequently to view the rugged vistas of this shipwreck shore. Continuing west late in the afternoon, we headed for our overnight stop at the small town of Port Fairy.
We soon noticed a sign for the whale-watching platform at Warrnambool. The weather worsened. I wanted to keep driving. My wife, endlessly curious and always optimistic, urged me to take the detour south as the skies darkened. I figured the chance of seeing anything was virtually zero.
Arriving at the small parking lot, we braved the cold wind and walked out to a small viewing platform. No whales. I gave up and went back to a warm, dry car. A few minutes later a local sea-captain type man came up and started looking eastward. Shelly noticed he seemed to be watching something. She asked if he saw whales.
The old man answered that a mother and baby southern right whale were just up the coast in the surf. Shelly tried to see them, but couldn’t. She came to get me from the car to help join the search. The man told us the whales would be directly in front of us in about 15 minutes if we would just wait. Yeah, right.
But wait we did. Suddenly, we could see them! They stopped right in front of our lookout platform and seemed to be playing. We asked the man if there was something under the water that drew them to that special spot – maybe a food source or something on which to rub their bellies? Or was it something else?
The old man, who had studied whales for 25 years, said he had no doubt. Whales stopped beside that platform so THEY could watch US!
As we stood transfixed, the baby whale left its mother for a short time and flapped its tail as if to say “hello!” Like little kids, we squealed with delight and waved back with the assurance that he was in fact watching us!
Yes, there is something special about whales.
Have you seen whales? Have they seen you? Where?