There are moments in everyone’s lives that you just want to hang onto forever. This is one of mine. To have a photograph of it is, to me, incredibly lucky. To have one this beautiful, takes more than luck, though; it takes a great photographer. This image, shot by our good friend, Steve Perih (who also shot the new cover of Closer to the Ground–check out more of his work HERE), currently graces the cover of the 2015 Patagonia kids catalog. But the experience was even sweeter than the photo.

The kids and I were in the islands of northern British Columbia with Steve and two of my conservation heroes, mentors, and good friends, Bruce Hill and Gerald Amos. These three guys are among the handful of people who’ve had such an impact on my life, it’s important to me that my kids spend time with them as well.

After days of heavy weather, the wind fell out and Whale Channel magically turned to glass. A pod of Dall’s porpoises spotted–or heard–us, and we watched them come all the way across the channel to greet us. They twirled, leapt and swooped around the bow of the boat, as they often do, and we were all delighted to watch.

After awhile, the kids walked down the port side of the boat, and the porpoises movedĀ  to follow them. When the kids went to the other side of the boat, the porpoises surfaced to starboard, often swimming on their sides to look directly into the kids’ faces. I try not to anthropomorphize, but this was clearly some kind of communication, or at least recognition of something.

Several days later, we steamed back into Whale Channel, this time going in the opposite direction. And the same three porpoises raced across the channel, ducking back and forth under the boat until they spotted the kids. Then, as before, they held pace just a couple of arm-lengths from wherever the kids moved. I don’t know what, if anything, it meant, but it was a moment that feels, even now, somehow important.