Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Snow Ball Fight Anyone?

The last thing you think of when you hear snow ball fight is killer whales.

Yesterday we saw a pod that was in less of a hurry. One of the whales, probably an adult female, was lolling in front of us. I wanted her to know we were there, so I tossed a snowball out to her. My throw was off: it tapped her on the side, and the dry snow vaporized with a muffled “pat.” In response, she hesitated, and then, to my surprise, she started pushing around a piece of ice that was a couple of feet across. At one point she flicked it with the end of her snout, and it broke in two. She disappeared for a minute and brought back a replacement chunk of ice — about the size of a volleyball. This time, when she arched her head back and snapped it forward, the ice flew out of the water and several feet ahead. For five minutes she motored around the small pond in front of us, repeatedly launching her ball of ice, before she lost interest and went on her way. I had to wonder: Did I just show a killer whale how to throw snowballs?

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