On Friday, May 18th I had a fantastic opportunity to share the story of my swim and some of my fears around what I might swim into in the Strait of Juan de Fuca with a fabulous group of kids; Mrs Noelle Arnot’s grade three class at Sangster Elementary School. It was one of the most engaging discussions I have had about swimming and the waterway to date.
As part of how I hope to alleviate any fears I have about the wildlife in the strait, or what to do if I run into jelly fish, I have asked Mrs Arnot’s class to be my very own private research firm. I have always believed that part of how one overcomes a fear is to make something more familiar or predictable.
Each time I swim in Juan de Fuca or even look across to the other side, it becomes more familiar and less intimidating. I have been shortening the perceived distance between “here and there” by studying the landscape and identifying landmarks. The more familiar I am with these landmarks, the less daunting the distance will seem.
What I haven’t done yet is become familiar with the wildlife in the Salish Sea and hence, have it seem more predictable. I am aware of some of what is there but I know very little about it. So lucky me now has the best research team a swimmer can ask for – the Grade 3 Class @ Sangster!
Over the next month this brilliant group of researchers have been tasked with finding out how many different types of jelly fish I can expect to see on my swim and which ones I should avoid. They will also be looking to discover the differences between seals and sea lions, where they “hang-out” and if I should be worried about them biting me.
The Juan de Fuca Strait, which his part of the Salish Sea, is also home to J,K and L Pod, a group of resident orcas. I was happy to learn that class new about the pods and their current state. As part of their research they will be looking into why the pods are endangered and what other types of orcas are in the strait.
There are also humpbacks, grey whales, minke whales in the strait and surprisingly sharks. I have tasked my research team with uncovering information on how to avoid bubble nets, what minke whales do at night, and what type of sharks might I be swimming with.
I am more excited than every to learn about the water way and can’t wait to have my research team share with me all they have learned.