April 18, 2019

Pinnipalooza! : We saw Harbor Seals, Steller Sea Lions, and a Northern Elephant Seal!

Northern Elephant Seal

Erick | Thursday, April 18, 2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00

Today, was a classic rainy PNW spring day. Many of the widlflowers are comign out and the landscape blushes with hints of pink, purple, white, and yellow. Captain Pete and I headed north through San Juan and President Channel. As the low lying clouds hovered over the mostly still sea and scraped over the forested islands that towered above us we cruised along and made our first stop at Patos Island. Here we cruised by the Patos Island Lighthouse and saw around 10 Bald Eagles congregated around the lighthouse. Most looked back at use as we sauntered by while a few took off disturbing the small flock of Bonaparte's Gulls resting along the shoreline. Just of the point here there was alos a small raft of Steller Sea Lions floating and flipping around in the water. We got some great looks at them as they did acrobats underwater and occasionally looked back at us. Next we headed a little bit further north and looked at a huge colony of Steller Sea Lions hauled out on East Point on Saturna Island. There was about 30 of them on shore resting with some of their snouts resting on the rocks while others pointed straight up into the air. There were even more swirling about in the ever-moving currents that exsit over Boiling Reef directly next to these rocks. We also saw quite a few Harbor Seals here lounging about on the rocks as well. They looked so small next to the sea lions that weigh a ton. We nexted headed west along the misty Saturna Island shoreline. We passed by another lighthouse at Turn Point on Stewart Island. A little bit after we passed there we spotted something else in the water! It was an adult male Northern Elephant Seal. If you thought the Steller Sea Lions were huge, these guys are even bigger. They are the second biggest pinniped species in the world, out-sizing all other seals, sea lions, fur seals, and walruses except for their cousins the Southern Elephant Seals south of the equator. This guy was just taking a little rest at the surface ebfore he goes on his next multi-hour dive. He looked at us with his elephant truck like snout for a few minutes before he dipped back under with grace. THat was the longest I had seen an Elephant Seal stay at the surface - so Cool! After that we headed further south and made a final stop along the southern shoreline of Spieden Island. Here we saw even more magnificent Bald Eagles as well as some exotic terrestrial species that were left here decades ago by some entrepreneurs who opened up an exotic game hunting ranch on the island. Still left on the island are Mouflon Sheep, Fallow Deer, and Sika Deer. Today we saw a ton of Mouflon Sheep  prancing around and a small herd of Fallow deer grazing about. We even saw one of the albino Fallow Deer! On our final stop we saw another one of the Steller Sea Lion colonies on Green Point. After that we headed home! So fun, Can't wait to go out next time to find even more fun widlife!

Erick

northern elephant seal