Perspiring in a t-shirt, I was eager to get our tour off the dock today.  I’m always excited to begin another San Juan safari, but at the forefront of my mind was the cooling breeze that I knew awaited us on the open water.  The warm spring weather also inspired my sense of urgency to get out and enjoy the brief wildflower season.  I have very limited Springs left to experience in my lifetime, so planning a visit to Yellow Island has advanced to my top 10 list of priorities.  Each time we thunder by this island on our tours I excitedly survey its lush slopes with my binoculars for signs of the unfolding drama of the season.  With a string of warm, sunny days in the forecast, I suspect Yellow will soon be ablaze with purple lupin and camas, red paintbrush, yellow buttercup, chocolate lilies, and a kaleidoscope of other species vying for the attention of the pollinators that will carry out the plant’s life cycle.

Further north, the black-capped Bonaparte’s Gulls still linger around Boiling Reef, waiting for the right time to descend on Canada’s boreal forests to commence another breeding season.  Steller’s sea lions are also biding their time on the haul out site off East Point on Saturna Island.  As I’ve continue to watch the show unfold over these Spring weeks, the bulls seem to be getting more irritable, growling and bearing their teeth at the slightest transgression upon their personal space.  All this training will come into play when the bulls migrate to the outer coast to establish territories in expectation of luring a harem of lionesses.

The humpback whale we watched nearby is exempt from the drama of this breeding season.  The 40-foot cow spent the winter months being chased around by amorous suitors in the Hawaiian Islands.  Now she spends her days in solitude, gulping tiny bait fish to build up her energy stores for another 3,000 mile winter migration and to nourish her gestating calf.

Andrew Munson

Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris