Category Archives: wildlife

The Red Foxes of San Juan Island

  While out hiking on San Juan Island, especially if you are in the American Camp prairie or Cattle Point, make sure to keep an eye out Red Foxes darting through the grass. Red foxes were introduced to the islands intermittently throughout the twentieth century, presumably to hunt another non-native species whose populations had grown out of control as a result of domesticated animals being released into the wild; the… Read More »

Experience Pristine Islands: Visit the San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge

The San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge consists of 83 small islands that are scattered throughout the San Juan Archipelago. These 450 acres were designated as a wildlife refuge in order to protect colonies of nesting seabirds, but they also attract a variety of other wildlife, such as bald eagles and harbor seals. For the protection of the animals, most of these islands are off-limits to visitors, although for wildlife… Read More »

Lime Kiln State Park

Lime Kiln State Park is a must-see stop for every whale enthusiast visiting San Juan Island. It is also known as the “whale-watching park” and is one of the best places in the world to watch for orca whales from shore. Due to the steep underwater topography, salmon and other prey fish are driven right up against the shore, and hungry orcas will sometimes approach to within 10 feet of… Read More »

Transient Vs. Resident Orcas

One of the biggest draws for tourists to the San Juan Islands are the orca whales (Orcinus orca) that frequent local waters. Most people are familiar with the appearance of orcas: their tall, triangular dorsal fins, grey saddle patches, and white eye spots are obviously identifiable characteristics. These charismatic marine mammals are not only entertaining to watch, but there is much more to them than meets the eye. Did you… Read More »

Bird Watching on San Juan Island

Did you know that San Juan Island is one of the best bird watching areas in all of Washington State? Due to the large volume of water flushing through the Strait of Georgia and Haro Strait with each tidal change, the Salish Sea is an incredibly rich environment and is home to over 200 species of both resident and migrating birds. During the summer, rhinoceros auklets, tufted puffins, and pigeon… Read More »

Harbor Porpoises

Harbor porpoises, one of the smallest members of Cetacea, have been a rare sight in the Salish Sea until recently. They were common in our inland waters through the 1950’s, but had virtually disappeared by the early 1970’s due to fishing activities, increased vessel noise, and industrial pollution. Why they have made a comeback recently is unknown, but several factors, including declines in local gill-net fisheries as well as ongoing… Read More »

River Otters

Spotting marine mammals in the Salish Sea is certainly a highlight of any charter vacation. The animal that immediately comes to most people’s minds is the resident orcas that call this region home. There are, however, opportunities throughout the islands to spot some of the smaller marine mammals that live in and around the local waters. For example, there is a good chance that you’ll spot a river otter during… Read More »

Harbor Seals

Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) are the most common and abundant marine mammal in the Salish Sea, and you are very likely to encounter them while you’re on charter. Harbor seals are quite small for marine mammals. Full grown, they average 5-6″ long and weigh around 300 lbs. They range in color from grey to tan, and most have spots, giving them a mottled appearance that provides excellent camouflage. Harbor seals… Read More »

Learning about orcas at the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor

Many of our charter guests arrive for their charter hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the pods of Orca whales that call the San Juan Islands home. It can be difficult to predict where you will find these majestic creatures as they are continually in motion following their food source. With that said, we are always amazed by the stories of our charter guests who happen upon the… Read More »

Spend Your Summer Days Care-free in Friday Harbor

There is so much to do in Friday Harbor during the summer that visitors may have a hard time fitting everything in! Charter guests looking for a memorable visit can rent a kayak, bike or moped and see the village from a unique perspective. With hundreds of shops and museums to browse and enjoy, getting around can be half the fun! For those who want to take in some of… Read More »