Summer has come early to San Juan! What is undoubtably a thriving seabird population in San Juan is morphing and transitioning from our early spring usuals to an exciting new summer crowd. Our harlequin ducks and loons are slowly being replaced by auklets and Bonaparte’s gulls. Today was our first looks at these warm-weather winged species on our daily whale watch and wildlife tour out of Friday Harbor, and we couldn’t be more excited for the season to start!
Being in the transition period between seasons, we have the unique opportunity of viewing summer species with some early spring visitors the the area like Steller’s sea lions. These large grizzly-bear-esque animals are passerby’s in the Salish Sea, generally only using our rocky islands as a pit-stop en route to Alaska. Today we spotted a raft of them perusing the waters just north of San Juan Island!
Along with some of our transitionary species, passengers on today’s boat also got to see some of our year-round residents. Harbor seals, bald eagles, and harbor porpoises call these waters their home even in the chilly winter months, feasting on our thriving fish populations. Although porpoises usually travel in small pods of 3-8, today we saw over 3 dozen of them hunting in San Juan Channel, displaying their quick speeds and perfectly pointed dorsals, the sun gleaming off their smooth, dark gray backs. It’s days like these that really make you appreciate the true biodiversity that this region sports, with countless species to observe in even a short 3 hour trip.
Naturalist Sarah C.
M/V Sea Lion