Despite intense yearning and best efforts, guests and crew aboard the M/V Sea Hawk were reminded that one can flip only so many whale tails before you’re certain to get a deadhead.  After a lucky run of tours over the past week, which included multiple whale species, the laws of statistics came bear, resulting in not one sighting of a cetacean today.

No matter, our guests could still be heard chattering and laughing from the Canadian shoreline as we plied the international waters in search of the lesser appreciated, but equally intriguing denizens of the Salish Sea.  “Awes” and “oohs” were heard when we sidled up to a mass of Steller’s sea lions in Spieden Channel.  The beasts responded with strange sounds of their own that are best imitated by the cartoon character Homer Simpson upon finishing a beer.  Soaring eagles traced the contours of Spieden Island while big horn sheep and fallow deer took advantage of the rare abundance of forage brought on by the spring.

At one point, Captain Brian expertly positioned the Sea Hawk so close to the cliffs of Turn Point that guests could reach out and feel the polished cobbles of the glacial conglomerate.  Looking down into the dark water, we were exciting to spot two violet gems clinging to the wall.  Once too numerous to count, these purple sea stars are a rare and welcome site.  In recent years, our colorful sea star population has all but disappeared due to a wasting disease that appears to be tied to warming sea water.  Rounding Stuart Island, we made a final survey of Haro Strait before gliding into Roche Harbor to be greeted by parting clouds and a tease of sunshine.

Andrew Munson

Naturalist, M/V Sea Hawk

San Juan Outfitters