OrcaLab assistants 2016 – Dylan



I didn’t get to spend a lot of time at Orca Lab this year, but it was well worth it. I feel so fortunate to be able to come to Hanson Island. I not only get to meet new people and see old friends, but also spend time in one of the most beautiful places in the world while living out a lifelong passion.

I had so many great experiences this year. The new “Rubbing Beach” underwater camera is astounding. Every time the orcas go by it is like a party in the lab. People are holding their breath, cheering, and willing the whales to make another pass. It is such a cool experience to be able to listen to and watch the orcas in their natural habitat. I also got to spend a night at CP. Not only was the scenery incredible, but the company was great too. I got to witness a humpback breach and tail slap right next to the platform. It feels so intimate, to be that close to such powerful creatures.

The lab has got to be my most favorite spot. Listening to the calls of the orcas is such a special thing. It is enchanting. I learned so much this year. I was able to ask questions, listen to stories and share the company of some very knowledgeable people. All I want to do is keep learning! The orcas are just so smart, so coordinated, and so aware of their surroundings. I sometimes think that we are the ones being watched. They know so much, and we can only hope to get a glimpse into their world.


Orca lab means so much to me. Being involved in orca monitoring is something that I could only dream of as a child. To have the opportunity to do it now, and with so many amazing people, is something I will forever be grateful for. I have made so many new friends and made a ton of new memories. I love the laughs we all shared while we scrubbed boats, chopped wood, stayed away from the grizzlies or tried to stay warm and out of the wind next to the lab (we all know the spot).  Some of the best memories from this year were times when the whales hadn’t been around in a while. We would try anything to will the whales into Blackney Passage. The kelp horn, harmonica, shooting stars, and even by being “not too ready”. Anything to get a visit from the orcas.

Leaving is always hard. This year felt especially difficult. Saying good bye to a place that feels more like home than “home” does is tough. I am so thankful to Paul and Helena, and everyone who made this visit possible and so special. I will miss the wildlife, the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and the midnight vocalizations. However, it means that I have lots to look forward to next year. I can’t wait to be back!

by Dylan Smyth






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