NOMADS OF THE SEA: The Pacific Northwest

Seattle, Washington
Pike Place Market


Today, Seattle is all mist and rain and fog horns and the cry of seagulls. It’s the crescendo of a song, as the city slips into autumn’s embrace.

I left a piece of my heart somewhere again- wandering the streets alone, steaming cup of spiced rum apple cider in hand, the chill of the Pacific Northwest sending deep breaths of salty, crisp air into my lungs.

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A silver sunset in Seattle, impending storm lingering on the horizon

. . .

Today, I learned there are two types of orcas: residents, whom live in the sound, and transients. Resident orcas reside in the Pacific Northwest and feed exclusively upon salmon. These are referred to as “residents” because they remain in inland or nearby coastal waters. Transient orcas move north and south along the coast from Southeast Alaska and British Columbia as far south as Southern California.

To the untrained eye, resident and transient orcas appear similar. However, upon closer look, there are key differences between the two killer whales. Transient orcas have sharper dorsal fins. Evolution has trained them to swim faster, father. These nomads of the sea have no language, no audible calls to their pod in the open ocean. They hunt in silence beneath the surface, seldom using calls. Rarely breaching or splashing.

Resident orcas differ. They remain in the Pacific Northwest. These orcas have unique, identifiable calls, none of which are used by transient orcas. These vocal orcas thrive in the protection of Puget Sound, in the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the northern Salish Sea. They hunt comfortably, predictably- fed by a steady stream of salmon from surrounding rivers.

. . .

A storm is brewing in the on the horizon, the clouds heavy and looming and gray. The final, fragile beams of sunlight shine through pockets in the clouds, sending shimmering spotlights upon the silver water.

The first drops of rain begin to fall from the sky, as the once bustling streets begin to empty as passerby seek refuge from the season’s first big storm.

I, however, can seek shelter in one of Seattle’s famed coffee shops, but nothing more. No home or hotel to return to- at least not for now. My flight from Sea-Tac leaves in a few short hours. Then, it is onto yet another new city.
. . .

So why would an orca be transient?

Why would a transient choose uncertainty, solitude, and uncharted waters? Why take such a risk?

I look to the sea. Enraptured by the notion of being alive in a new city. My eyes absorbing an unfamiliar landscape, an endless horizon. A limitless breadth of experiences-

and I understand.

x. Natasha  Overin

 

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Rainy afternoon, exploring Pike Place Market
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Local catch at Pike Place Market
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Juicy tomatoes, sweet papayas and fresh berries at one of the market’s many produce stands.
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