August 16, 2017

Wildlife Galore in the Salish Sea

[8/15/17- M/V Sea Lion- Kelsey, Naturalist- 5:30PM]

Some days, whales are juuuust out of reach from us, and that is okay! We understand that the animals we are searching for are wild, and orcas can actually swim 35 mph and travel up to 100 miles in a day! We always want to see whales, but we also have a great deal of other amazing wildlife that fills these islands in the Salish Sea that we want to share with travelers. We actually have 4 species of baleen whale, 2 species of dolphin, 2 species of porpoise, 2 species of seal, 2 species of sea lion, 2 species of otter, a vast variety of sea birds that can change throughout the year based on their breeding seasons and migration patterns, and one of the largest breeding populations of bald eagles in the lower 48 states! You never know what you’re going to see out on the water.

M/V Sea Lion departed from Friday Harbor and first made it out to Mandarte Island in Canadian waters. We spotted a sizeable nesting colony of seabirds, particularly Pelagic cormorants and Glaucous seagulls that were precariously perched on the cliff sides. We continued on to Turn Point on Stewart Island, viewing the lighthouse and state park from the sea. From there, we were at the most northwestern point in the continental U.S.!

We zigged and zagged between John’s Pass and the Cactus Islands, watching harbor seals dart in front and alongside our boat and frolic through the bull kelp. There were also Pigeon guillemots and plenty of Common murres swimming about us. We circled around and approached the front side of Speiden Island, and just as we turned the corner, we came upon a bald eagle that was soon accompanied by its mate. Such gorgeous birds! We also were fortunate to see the Mouflon sheep and the Sika deer out on the golden hillside. They were playing and darting around in the setting sun, completing our gorgeous wildlife trip!

You never know what you’re going to get on your trip to the San Juan Islands! We love getting a chance to share this wild environment with these wild creatures, whether they be seabirds or whales or seals. Every trip is different, which makes this area so exciting and unpredictable!