Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Christmas perfect for whale watching

Wick's World


January 4, 2018

Just for the heck of it, let’s say it’s Christmas Day in San Diego, California and you’re a party of eight people looking for something slightly more entertaining than celebrating the birth of the last incarnation of God on Earth and slightly less entertaining than having your picture taken with a Tijuana donkey stripe-painted to resemble a zebra.

The Fisher family settled on an excursion called Whale Watching. To be clear, this version of whale watching did not mean the following: there are so many whales in the shipping lanes between Tijuana and Coronado Island that the Whale Watching Excursion Captain must be continually on the alert so as not to run over, under, around, or through one of the myriad of whale pods inundating the Pacific Ocean all the way to the Sea of Cortez.

A more true definition of our Christmas Day Whale Watching Tour would be much more accurately described in this way: take two dolphins, throw in a dozen sea lions, add one lone snowy egret, and call it the equivalent of one whale: the minimum amount needed to call the Whale Watching Excursion a success, thus avoiding the necessity of passing out “Rain Checks good for 50 years.” I am not kidding. The rain checks really did have a guarantee printed right on them that they were valid for 50 years. But, before we even got back to our vehicle, I realized the rain checks’ value could decline quickly – our party of eight had already lost or misplaced two of them.

At least the trip brought us back to the spirit of the day as we reminisced about a man named Jonah surviving in the belly of a whale. Now there was a whale worth watching!

There is actually an explanation as to why we failed to see any whales on our Whale Watching Excursion. As we went for our mammalian sight-seeing tour on Christmas Day, several factors were working against us. Normally, the tour boat that we were on would be only one of many vessels utilized that day. All sailing vessels in or near the harbor were tuned to the same radio frequency so that if one sailboat, for example, spotted a pod of whales, all of the other sailing vessels were informed of the pod’s whereabouts, thus vastly increasing the odds of getting to watch a whale that day. On our Christmas Day Excursion, a grand total of four boats were in the harbor, two whale-watching boats and two sailboats. On any other day, anywhere from a dozen to twenty boats would be looking for the elusive pod to make for a successful day of whale watching.

Besides, do you really think you can con me into believing that a rain check for whale watching was worth its weight in sea salt? Why would whales want to come out on a rainy day? Anyone who has sailed any of the Seven Seas knows that the likelihood of a pod of whales making an appearance on a rainy day has about the same odds as the Minnesota Vikings making a Super Bowl appearance (in their own stadium, no less.) By the time this story goes to print, the odds of the Minnesota Vikings making the Super Bowl, and the odds of them winning, will more than likely have been determined.

“Whoa! Did I just see a whale?”


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