Elk Bear And Whales

Whidbey Island is not a place for big game hunters, but it does get a few big beasts dropping, er, swimming by.


The whales are back. Some never leave. The Orcas are always about, we think. It’s hard to tell with animals that spend most of their time swimming. Orca Network helps keep track of them. They don’t wander. They roam in search of dining, and occasionally dating, opportunities. The gray whales, however, migrate through annually. Now’s the time for humans to wander along the shore hoping for a glimpse and maybe even a photo of great grey beasts that come in to the shallows in search of ghost shrimp that live in the sands. Drop in on Langley to maybe ring the bell when you see one at the base of Anthes Avenue. Otherwise, simply post to their page and join the list of citizen scientists who help the officials track the original residents.


A less common appearance is made by our local elk, Bruiser. One elk, a male, which means a great rack of antlers – and no female elks to properly appreciate his display. His hormones don’t stop, though, so sometimes he’s found wearing a tangle of tarps or other garden supplies as he blunders through backyards on the north end of the island. It’s somewhat surprising that someone hasn’t played matchmaker by bringing a prospective mate to the island. The gesture would be romantic, but the neighbors might not appreciate a growing herd plowing through well-tended landscaping. Whether he came across the Deception Pass Bridge, or simply swam is unknown. It’s pretty certain he didn’t buy a ferry ticket.


And now for something different, if not new. There’s a bear on the island. A black bear is also wandering around the north end. One was spotted on Camano recently, so the guess is that he or she is checking out the territory, swimming as necessary. It is easy for people to worry more about bears, but black bears aren’t grizzlies; and Bruiser’s rack may be a bigger worry. Black bears aren’t new to the island. Their absence is. Reports from about a century ago put black bears all the way through the south end of the island. That’s not much of a surprise considering bears’ tendency to roam across wide territories, their curiosity, and their appetites. And yet, a bear has claws and the likelihood of finding a mate is lower on Whidbey.

The photographic coup would be to photograph the elk, the bear, and a whale or two swimming near each other. Sounds like the trailer for a childrens’ nature epic.

Just another day on Whidbey Island.



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