Whales, watching - Salish Current
May 6, 2024
Whales, watching
Al Bergstein

Feel like you’re being watched? A spy-hopping gray whale takes in the view. Grays grow to around 45 feet long, weighing around 40 tons. (Marc Webber/USFWS via Wikimedia Commons)

May 6, 2024
Whales, watching
Al Bergstein

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This story was first published in Rainshadow Journal on May 1, 2024.

A little flash fiction for your enjoyment. 

It was hard to tell when we first noticed the whales watching. Was it somewhere in the summer of ’27, when tourist boats tracking them saw odd behavior as the whales turned and followed their boats as they peeled away after an hour of tracking? Or later that year, when the first signs of whales being seen spy-jumping right next to the ferries and docks?

Soon, it was common enough, and we knew the whales were tracking us. They were suddenly right there, coming out of the water at boat launches or seen sliding alongside geoduck divers out in the nearshore, tangling their air cords.

Along the Canadian coast, in Norway and Scotland, whales smashed open net pens and ate themselves full of Atlantic salmon. Entire industries collapsed overnight.

Pods of grays encircled the giant cruise ships, turning sideways to expose their one eye to the world, as the passengers raced to the ships rails and peered back down at them. The boats were forced to stop for hours as the large leviathans circled round and round, slamming their tails on the water and causing mass seasickness on the boats. But then, the feet appeared .…

Small appendages began to show alongside fins. Scientists were baffled and called it, “rapid evolutionary change (REC).” It was clear that the whales were using the small feet to push themselves onto land, and would watch the boaters as they attached their craft to their trailers. The feet grew fast.

Children would pull at their parents’ hands, “Please let me go see the whale!” they would scream, but the parents, eyes wide, would drag the children away.

The night that the fish store in the harbor was burglarized was particularly disturbing. In the morning, the owner arrived to find the back doors smashed open, and all the fish in the cases gone. The security cameras showed large black and white orcas, “killer whales,” taking long sliding attacks at the door until it finally gave way. The police, unable to arrest animals, called in the Coast Guard.

“We can’t do anything,” said Rear Admiral Plunkett. “They are endangered species. Congress has to do something.”

Bait shops and other fish processing facilities in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and into Canada were being broken into and raided. Guards were asked to do night patrols but had no intention of trying to stop a mammoth animal with layers of blubber to protect themselves. The guards fled at the mere sight of a whale.

Whales were seen traveling in packs along major highways, speeding up to catch the cars and looking inside at the faces pressed to the glass. The Seattle Aquarium was attacked and all the various species freed.

Officials attempted to find “pod leaders,” to see if anything could be done to round up a few that they thought were plotting the attacks but as soon as officials went out on the water, the whales would simply vanish. 

It was said that the plotting happened during bubble feeding, but researchers could no longer find bubble-feeding pods. It seemed that the whales knew.

Large “superpods” of porpoises cruised up and down beach front homes all night, laughing their sinister laughs. The billionaires in those homes packed up and left for higher altitudes, jetting off to places where whales could not find them.

It was at that point, I decided to take matters into my own hands ….

— By Al Bergstein, Rainshadow Journal

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