Many who use the BC Ferries to travel between Vancouver Island and the mainland of coastal British Columbia hope to see some sort of animal-life common to the waters of the Georgia Strait. Whales are always a big hopeful, and only the lucky get to see them enroute. Seeing a seal is neat and even though some might shrug and say, ‘Ah, it’s just a seal,’ no matter how often I see them, I still get a thrill. An even bigger thrill – one I will talk about for days, telling anyone brave enough to listen to my excited ramblings – is when I’m fortunate to see an Orca whale, or two.
But on a recent journey aboard the BC Ferry vessel ‘Coastal Celebration’ I got my wish – and more.
I was out on the ferry deck taking photos when someone shouted, “Look over there!” The few of us brave enough to be out on the windy, rainy deck followed his pointing finger - 3 humpback whales were passing by without a care.
All too soon the whales swam on their merry way and I ventured back into the safety and warmth of the ferry. I went in search of a washroom to fix my wind/rain-blown hair, and told everyone who’d listen (hello Facebook, Twitter and recipients of my texts!) about the whale sightings, and then went in search of an outlet to charge my phone (I had more messages to send, you see).
But as I wandered by the Chief Steward’s office, I stopped short. I was still buzzing with the excitement of seeing humpback whales, but there was no missing what was just behind the counter. Something so ironic - so unexpected - yet so fitting for the ‘high seas’ on which we were sailing had me stopping to stare in wonder.
Behind the counter two fish tanks bubbled away, brightly lit and clear, while the ship’s officers sat at their desks doing…ship officer stuff.
Two Siamese fighting fish, oblivious to their sort-of-cousins swimming just outside, swam merrily around, enjoying the warmth, pampering and serenity of their personal tanks.
The two officers told me the story of Woofie the lost-and-found fish with such love and admiration, I felt a pang of jealousy.
Woofie was found on the BC Ferry vessel, ‘The Spirit of Vancouver Island,’ in June 2014 (5 months before this writing) by a crewmember named Woo. Yes ‘found’ meaning fish in a container and all. I was assured repeatedly that all protocols had been followed in trying to track down the owner of the lost fish. Numerous announcements were made over their PA system trying to locate the owner, but sadly no one stepped forward and the poor little Betta fish was left alone, unwanted and forgotten.
The officers finished their story and gave their water-loving crew members another endearing look. The fish-fostering officers also had the decency to overlook my wind-ruined hair, but bad hairdos were far from my mind then (a look in the mirror, later, had me second-guessing my lack of concern). I realized I was as fortunate to hear the story of the little lost-and-found fish as I was to see humpback whales, and fixing my hair could be done anytime.
From whales outside to fish inside, it was quite an adventure on the high seas that day, one I won’t forget soon.