"The past actually happened but history is only what someone wrote down." A. Whitney Brown.

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San Juan Archipelago, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 650, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

1983 ❖ A SALTY GREETING CEREMONY FROM LIME KILN LIGHT

Lime Kiln Lighthouse
San Juan Island, WA. Undated.
Photographer unknown. Courtesy of the USCG.

The Lime Kiln Lighthouse on the west side of San Juan Island was acquired through a lease agreement with the US Coast Guard in December 1983 as a new Whale Research Laboratory. This gave researchers 'possibly one of the most accessible whale-watching spots in the world,' according to Whale Museum research director Rich Osborne. The laboratory eventually will be developed into a highly sophisticated electronics laboratory, so that whales can be studied undisturbed by the use of boats. At this time the lab operated a fixed hydrophone array, that consists of three underwater microphones which triangulate the whale sounds, allowing scientists to 'sort out conversations between the whales.' Additionally, the observation tower provides 'an ideal platform for visual observation, using spying scopes, surveyor transits, and video cameras.'
      Whale often swim along the point by the lighthouse within 20-ft of the shore and play in the kelp beds. Rich described one type of play in which 'whales will drag a piece of kelp down under the water and let it go so that it shoots out of the water like a missile.'
      Another interesting form of behavior that scientists have observed nine times since 1976 is the 'the greeting ceremony.' Whenever a pod or extended family of whales has been away from another pod for some time, when they meet again the two pods line up at the surface facing each other. After about 20 seconds they all dive and swim into each other, rolling around and rubbing against one another. This is called intermingling, and it continues for from 30 minutes to an hour and a half.
      Although the lighthouse itself will not be open to the public, the surrounding area will be open soon as a park. Whales regularly pass by here within a mile from shore and this area will no doubt increase in popularity as a spot for whale watching.
Author unknown. San Juan Islands Almanac. Volume 11. Friday Harbor, WA. Longhouse Printcrafters. 1984.

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