While in Quebec recently we got to check off an item on our “bucket list” eg things to do before you kick the bucket —kayaking with whales. I was still sick, but the window of opportunity was quickly closing so my partner made the reservation in quaint Tadoussac where the St Lawrence meets the Sageunay River. Little did I know the 3-hour tour was sold out, so he booked a 5-hour tour, without telling me. He was afraid I would bail, and he was probably right since I felt extremely crappy. But I was too tired to be upset. Just getting the wetsuit on exhausted me and I nearly fell asleep waiting for our huge group of 22 to embark.
As I surveyed my fellow kayakers, I had the sinking feeling that this was definitely NOT my ideal group, as 90% were under 20 and male. That was sure to mean my leisurely paddling and hanging out with wildlife whenever possible was not going to go over too well, as testosterone was sure to rule and the athletic teens would want to race.
I felt totally spent as we dragged the vessel into the water, but within minutes my dream came true—we hear that unmistakable exhale. Not just one but 4-5 huge whales were circling our group! I was ecstatic, especially that I didn’t have to paddle too far to see them! The guides were clearly excited, making a point to tell us, in broken English, how unusual this was. “These are minke whales, much larger than the standard beluga that we expected to see here, averaging 30 feet long and 10 tons. But minke whales are not usually here now, and they NEVER are in groups, and they NEVER circle–normally they feed alone in straight lines.”
I was secretly thrilled…as I had communicated with the whales on the drive up to Tadoussac, telling them how much it meant to me to be with them. The whales assured me that it would be just like in Hawaii with the dolphins, where we were circled by a pod of 20-30 spinner dolphins for over 2 hours. So to see them within 10 minutes, in this rare formation, made me feel, well, quite special.
And just as quickly our miracle turned nightmarish.
The group began to paddle off, in a unilateral decision–we did not speak French so we missed most of the conversations. But the whales were still circling!! How could anyone leave?! I was shocked and heartbroken…I argued with one guide “wasn’t this a whale tour”!?!? SO where was there to go??!! I nearly cried in disbelief…5 hours of paddling away from the whales was just insane to me. I refused. I begged. I stamped my feet (not so smart in a kayak with 40 degree water). We were overruled–they were already far away and blowing whistles at us to join the group.
So I begged the whales’ forgiveness–they showed up in such a unique way to let me know they heard me, and we unceremoniously dump them. I explained that my incredibly stupid human pod felt the need to move on and that we had to join them. I asked if the whales would please follow us as their company meant the world to me.
The rest of the trip was mind-and body-numbing…racing to keep up with the teenage group, my left bicep cramped up in the first 30 minutes. This was nothing like the lazy paddle down the Sebastian river at home in FL, not a wave in sight and barely a current. Here was a huge bay where two massive rivers meet—it sure resembled ocean to me! The icy water froze our hands, and it was a struggle to repeatedly fish out a tissue stashed in my wetsuit to blow my nose. Within the first hour I was unraveling quickly and Kumara was overloaded trying to take up my slack.
At times I could feel whales all around us but it was always a bit surprising where they would actually surface. For such a large mammal they were incredibly silent. “They are very near” I told Kumara as I began to tune into their unique vibration, unlike dolphins or any animal I ever felt before. It was as if their energy field took up the entire river. It was HUGE. Like we were wrapped in their essence no matter where we were… And for a moment I slipped under water in a timeless, peaceful place… It was dreamlike and a bit disorienting at the same time. And sure enough Kiki the Minke whale did follow us from the original group (he had a signature bite on his dorsal fin so the guides knew him) and surfaced within 30 feet of us. It was not a direct communication, but a sharing of space that I felt. Momentarily they welcomed me into their underwater dimension.
When we finally turned to head back, I had not one more ounce of strength. My arms were cramped and limp at my sides. The sun sank behind a mountain and the temperature dropped severely. Rain began falling and we were now paddling against the wind and current, with waves splashing near-freezing water over us. And we still had over two hours to go! I masked my panic by feigning a joke, asking our guide “Has anyone ever needed a tow?” She just laughed, and mumbled something unintelligible in French. She hadn’t understood a word I said! I was alone and losing badly in my own sad version of “Survivor”.
Desperate, the only thing I could think to do at this point was ask the whales for help. Immediately I received a puzzling message: “Take small bites.” At first all I could think of was Bill Murray repeating “Baby steps, baby steps” in a movie about a man who was terrified to get on elevators.
What could they be telling me? Then I thought of what whales eat–the most massive mammal on the planet consumes the tiniest plankton and krill. Small bites must add up. So I took my focus off the endless shoreline, with no view of our landing site, to each stroke. If I totally focused on one stroke at a time, perhaps I could manage. Two and a half hours and many miles went by, one small bite (stroke) at a time. And just when I thought I couldn’t move a muscle, our friend Kiki the minke whale would appear, and I felt momentarily transported to hope once again.
Incredibly, Kiki came so close towards the very end he surfaced a mere 6 feet from our kayak- even our seasoned guide beamed, saying she never had been so close. Whales and their wisdom “Take small bites” got me home to dry land!
Copyright Kumari Inc. 2009
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Kumari Mullin is a Reiki Master, Animal Communicator, intuitive healer, counselor, attorney, author, and equestrian. She specializes in energetic problem-solving for pets and their people. For the past 20 years she studied and lived with internationally acclaimed meditation masters, energy healers/teachers and with Penelope Smith, the pioneer of interspecies telepathic communication. Kumari has helped thousands of people and their animal friends internationally including doctors, veterinarians, trainers, holistic practitioners, rescue organizations and zoos. www.KumariHealing.com