gmhTODAY 14 gmhToday May June 2017 - Page 99

to take them out and go look at whales! Soon, TripAdvisor recognized us as the top whale watch business in the area. I was no longer Mr. Maya, public school teacher. I had morphed into Captain Jim. Though there is a great variety of wildlife in the area, the chief attraction is the large number of wild Killer Whales, or Orcas. The West Side of San Juan Island is the number one place in the world for wild Orca sightings from land. The largest of the dolphin family, Orcas are an apex predator; extremely intelligent, family oriented and matriarchal in nature. I think they are the most fascinating creatures on the face of the Earth. People from literally all over the world come to the San Juan Islands to view these amazing animals.  Now, 20 years later, I’m still Captain Jim. And because of my love of wildlife and whales in particular, I’m now also a professional wildlife photographer. We sell my images at galleries and on-line, using my full name, James Mead Maya, (my Facebook handle), and Maya’s Images,  Though we sold our business two years ago, I still captain for the new owner, Maya’s Legacy Whale Watch. I have no plans to ever retire. What’s the old phrase? “Doing what you love is happiness, and loving what you do is freedom.” I still find it hard to