March 19, 2018
Steller St. Patty's Day: Steller Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, and Little Lambs
[Saturday, 3/17/18 - 12:00 – M/V Sea Lion – Naturalist Erick]
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
We were blessed with yet another sunny day for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day. Captain Mike and I headed out again with a great group of guests and looked northward for exciting wildlife in the San Juan archipelago. We first stopped at Green Point on Spieden Island and looked at a large group of Steller Sea Lions rafting and swimming in the strong current streaming off of the point. This sharp point creates a large back eddy that allows the Steller Sea Lions to just float in the water and the current keeps them more or less in one spot near the shoreline. There was a bunch of male Stellers here that swam around us and eyed us as we passed their little eddy and moved west along the grassy side of Spieden Island. On this side of the island we got a great view of the large herds of Mouflon Sheep that inhabit this peculiar island. This island used to be an exotic-game hunting ranch that was stocked with a diverse menagerie of animals from all over the world. When this man went out of business and sold the island, he left some of the animals behind. The Mouflon sheep are one of the three species that are left over from this time period. And currently there are many, many lambs EVERYWHERE! These are possibly the cutest creatures that I have ever seen, and they were frolicking all around the grassy slopes of Spieden Island! We continued to see more and more sheep as we moved along the Spieden shoreline. We also saw herds of Fallow Deer as well and eventually a couple of Bald Eagles scavenging off of a dead, adult mouflon sheep head. Nature is awesome. We motored across northern Haro Strait and searched around Gooch Island (yup, that’s its real name). We reached the light on the edge of the island and found a male Steller Sea Lion eating a Giant Pacific Octopus! Again, nature is so cool! We headed east from there and passed Turn Point Lighthouse, Johns Pass, and then the Cactus Islands! At the Cactus Islands we saw a ton of Harbor Seals lying on the rocks enjoying the wonderful sun. As we scooted in between the Cactus islands we also saw a few pairs of Bald Eagles and a nest as well! Bald Eagles are monogamous and mate for life, so the nests we see are well used and can get quite large since the pairs return to their nest every year and add onto it. After this we had to head back towards home. We returned through Spring Passage and soon made it back to Friday Harbor. What another great sunny day full of wonderful wildlife in the San Juans!
Until next time,