Today's wildlife tour took the Seahawk on a cruise around some of the most beautiful and eccentric islands in the San Juans. We ducked out of Roche Harbor through Mosquito Pass where double created and pelagic cormorants were drying their wings off on the buoys marking private docks. Once we moved into Haro Strait we picked up a little bit of a breeze and a light chop until we put the wind behind us and headed north. We spotted a bald eagle soaring past the west side of Henry Island as we hugged the shoreline, marveling at the bright red madronas dotting the cliffside.
We scooted farther north to boat around the east end of Spieden Island, where we caught some glimpses of the exotic mouflon sheep placed there 50 years ago to hunt for sport. While the exotic big game reserve that used to occupy that island has long since closed, the mouflon sheep and a few other deer species remain and have flourished in this new environment. We stopped along the rocky shoreline to have a look at some hauled out harbor seals and a bald eagle munching on its fish dinner before moving farther north into John's Pass.
As we entered the pass we spotted one of my favorite birds, the great blue heron. These wading shorebirds stand almost four feet tall and have gorgeous blue-grey plumage and long, stocky legs. After coming out of the pass and circling the outside of Turn Point we finally spotted the first cetaceans of the day - porpoises!
Harbor porpoises are often boat shy and as such are rarely seen at close range. These porpoises, however, were very preoccupied with their fishing that they didn't seem to mind us stopping to watch them hunt! Feeling satisfied with our afternoon of wildlife watching, we began our trip back home and aimed for the north end of San Juan Island to dock at Roche Harbor just in time for happy hour.
Naturalist Sarah C.