October 6, 2017

Safari Island

Mouflon Sheep

10/4/17- M/V Sea Lion- 12PM

One common topic of conversation during our whale watching trips is Spieden Island, previously known as Safari Island. 

Spieden Island is the largest privately owned island in the San Juans.  It is roughly two miles long, so it is pretty substantial to say the least.  There are many rumors of who currently and previously have owned this island but one story in particular is best known.  Back in the 60’s three brothers, who were taxidermists, purchased the island and wanted to make it into a big game reserve.  They wanted to make this into a lucrative business where people would come out and hunt animals and then have the brothers stuff the animals, allowing them to make a profit from the visitors. 

What animals did they have?  They had a variety of colorful ground dwelling birds as well as some ungulates including Mouflon Sheep, Sika Deer, and Fallow Deer.  Unfortunately, their business didn’t work out, no surprise here, so they had to sell the island.  They decided to leave all the remaining living animals on the island, since it would cost them additional money to get them taken off and placed elsewhere.  As a result, there is a large population of those three specific ungulates that still reside on the island.  You will commonly see the animals on the barren hillsides of the island as well as down by the shore licking the salt off the rocks as the tide goes down. 

Keep an eye out next time you’re out on the water with us and you might see some of these introduced creatures. 

Naturalist, Rachel