This Blog entry was written by Megan, one of our Interns just days after she left to fly back to the UK. We felt it should be shared and read by all as it speaks from the heart as to how truly special this entire and area and the people who are trying to protect it are.
Leaving Cetacea Lab
Prior to my arrival at Cetacealab I had many thoughts and feelings about what my time on Gil Island would be like. It was a mixture of anticipation and excitement, but mostly it was the butterfly feeling you get in your stomach of the unknown. I knew I would see whales, and most of my thoughts for the last 19 years of life had been centred on them, so for that reason alone I knew this was a dream come true. But the feelings that I have left with are far different from what I even imagined. The people that I have met, the things I have seen and done and the switches that have flicked in my mind since I first set foot in the Great Bear Rainforest have been far beyond what I ever initially imagined.
The fear of leaving this place only actually occurred to me the evening before I left. Sitting in the wooden armchair by the bath with Amber purring in my arms, whilst quietly sobbing in to a lemon tea, watching the sky turn pink and listening to the prehistoric sounds of the ravens sitting above in the magnificent cedar; I knew then the next morning was going to be an emotional challenge.
On my last morning I awoke in the lab about 5am and decided not to waist a single second. I grabbed my waterproofs and the life vest and took to the Canoe. It was lightly raining and the water was so glassy calm that each drop could be seen bouncing off the surface. The only sound was the water dripping off the ore as I made my way round the Bight. That was until I awoke a sleepy humpback whale 200 meters ahead of me. He took one gigantic breath and then dove. Wow, just when I thought last nights visit from two humpbacks at sunset was my final whale encounter. It just goes to show how unforeseen my experiences of this place have been. Sole, by this time was on the deck with camera in hand for the whale’s next move. I lightly tapped the ore on the side of the canoe a few times to let him know where I was and after 5 minuets the whale surfaced across the other side of the bight. I watched him leave pass York Point and by this time I was soaked by the rain. After 3 hot cups of coffee and the last minuet stuffing of sleeping bags and thermals into my oversized backpack it was time to load the boat and say our goodbyes.
Standing at the back of Elemiah with Neekas trapped between my legs’s waving goodbye to Janie, Katie and Kirsty on the lab deck with tears streaming down my face is the last memory I have of Whale Point (2012). After another emotional goodbye to Herman and Neekas, a peaceful wander around Hartley Bay and an amazing seaplane adventure over The Great Bear Rainforest with Jen and Sole we all made our way back to Vancouver.
After such an incredibly life changing 6 weeks the only words I really have left is thank you, thank you, thank you!
So thank you to the Gitga’at for keeping this incredible land so pristine and intact, your humble beliefs have left me speechless. Thank you to every single person and creature that has passed my way over the past 6 weeks at Cetacea Lab. Thank-you for the what you have taught me, for the things you have said that have moved me, and the thoughts you have given me to take on my way back around the world.
But most of all Thank-you to Janie & Herman. Thank-you for their incredible hospitality, for their amazing humour and whit, for their strength for when things don’t go according to plan (which often happens whilst 40 feet up a tree with the wrong screwdriver) & thank-you most importantly from the bottom of my heart for the work that they are doing to ensure that the whales that inhabit this pristine and irreplaceable part of the world will be better understood and forever protected in these waters. The task at hand is one of such great importance and I have the sincerest optimism that every person that sets foot on Gil Island will forever be changed, Mind, Body and Soul, just as I have.