“They’re turning!” With those words, everyone on deck runs to the prow of the ship, leans over the rail, and looks down into the dark, still water. As we scan the water, the ship’s hull and a couple dozen little faces are mirrored back to us on the surface of the water.
What we anticipate is a trio of Dall’s porpoises. Black and white, seven feet long, and made of 300 pounds of muscle bent on playing, these tiny-toothed whales are aiming for our bow, where a pressure wave creates the perfect conditions for underwater surfing.
In no time, the porpoises are on us. Just beneath the surface, they weave back and forth as if braiding an unseen rope. Occasionally, they rise to the surface where they form a rooster tail spray, take a quick breath, and then slip back under the surface to continue their playtime.
Word spreads, and people pour out of the lounge to join the audience, but the show only lasts a minute. The three sleek animals peel away and disappear.