Whales can be a rare sight depending where you are and what time of the year it is. But when you do see them, you second guess yourself wondering if it was a whale or just log floating adrift.
In the Haida culture, the most popular whale is the killer whale or SGaana. The SGaana has taken on many forms depending on which clan you are from. There is the raven-finned SGaana, 2-fin killer SGaana, and a 3-fin SGaana to just name a few. Then there is a crest that may look like one thing, but its not – which is a crest belonging to the Ts’aahl clan. If you don’t know the stories, a 5-fin sea monster known as K’aaGwaay, may look like a 5-fin SGaana. With each crest belonging to a clan, each clan has their own stories relating to them to describe where their family comes from. These stories also describes places that relate to certain parts of Haida Gwaii – like a husband who takes the skin of the Wasgo (Sea Wolf) from Spirit Lake to gather whales for his greedy mother-in-law who keeps asking for more.
Here at Kay Llnagaay, we were fortunate last year and already this year to experience seeing SGaana, Kun (grey whale), SGap (humpback) and Skul (harbour porpoise). The SGaanas were seen most recent, they have been seen in Hecate Strait to Telephone Point – near Skidegate Landing. Here at Kay Llnagaay we could see them from the beach in front of the centre by Indian Head (Jewel Island) till they went towards Skyass (Tauren Island). Few days later, they were spotted behind the museum at the lookout deck.
Last summer, there were regular spotting of SGap around HlGaagilda (Skidegate). One sunny day, a few of my friends and I went up the lookout trail – located across the main parking lot – and heard Kwaaxagang (Whale breaking water – the blowing air sound). We rushed to the edge and could see a few SGap swimming in front of Jags. Few days during the summer, there was also a Kun splashing around right in front of Kay Llnagaay! One local Haida went swimming during the Kuns splashing and told us that he was rubbing his belly on the bottom of the seafloor.
So next time you visit us at Kay Llnagaay, make sure to keep your eyes open for whales of all kinds!