March 6, 2018

Wild World: Seeing our Winter Wildlife in the Islands

Bald Eagle

[Monday, 3/5/18 – 12:00 – M/V Sea Lion – Naturalist Erick]

            Monday, Mondays. Today, we had an extra small group join us for another sunny day in the San Juan Islands. Captain Mike and I headed north towards Spieden Island to start our adventure. We first stopped at Green Point on Spieden Island to looks at the big groups of sleepy Steller Sea Lions there. Sleeping, they look like giant fluffy lumps lined up on the rocks and we watched them for a while and rode the strong current that ripped around the point. We next headed further northwest to the Cactus Islands. Here we spotted six Bald Eagles. One had just caught something and was chowing down right next to the water line, so we got a great, close view of him while he ate.

            Around these rocks there also was a whole bunch of Harbor Seals doing the ‘banana pose’ on the rocky islets dotting the swift tidal currents surrounding the Cactus Islands. These Harbor Seals are year-round residents here and are amazing divers. They can hold their breath longer than 30 minutes! They can do that even after they exhale all of the air in their lungs! They are able to do this because they have high levels of hemoglobin in their blood and can also slow their heart rates down as well!

            After looking at those amazing creatures we continued on our journey. We headed across Boundary Pass and into Plumper Sound. We wound further and further north as the spaces between the Canadian Gulf Islands became smaller and smaller until it seemed like we were on a river. We followed and eventually exited Georgensen Pass out into the Strait of Georgia. This large body of water leads up to Vancouver, B.C. We initially hung around the small sandstone islets known as the Belle Chain that line the coast of Saturna Island to look at a bunch more Steller Sea Lions resting on the rocks. This group was more mixed and had a good mix of females and males and after one woke up it he woke all the others up and it became a huge growling party full of furry heads bobbing back and forth. We eventually had to leave this group and head back south towards Friday Harbor. Hope to find more exciting wildlife in the days to come!

Naturalist Erick

San Juan Safaris




Steller Sea Lion