Monday, May 10, 2010

San Juan Island Adventures

San Juan Island is a 4 hour drive north from Portland, and about an hour ferry ride to the island. The fun begins at the ferry terminal where wildlife galore inhabits. There was about an hour wait at the ferry terminal and in that time I combed the beaches for crabs hiding under rocks, witnessed an array of blue heron activity and eagles soaring above.

All along the terminal structure were nests full of half-grown cormorants and one nest of baby seagulls. The baby sea gulls were quite adorable. The baby cormorants were not “cute” per se, but they were fascinating and as we waited to dock, my camera kept rolling.

While on San Juan Island, even more wildlife delighted. There were these little foxes that came our eerily at night scouring for food around the humans. These little foxes came in all sorts of colors, looking like a dark calico cat variety.

Eagles were often seen either flying overhead or sitting in wait at the top of a tree. This is good eagle country, since it is also good fish waters. That is why the orca whales swim around the islands and surrounding area. They are on the hunt for one type of fish, salmon. These are resident orcas that are not interested in seals, but have a very distinct food craving, which is why restoring the ecosystem is so important to this amazing creature.

Sometimes there are fun surprises on the island as well. While enjoying the sunset one night, a mystery man started to play a magical instrument on the mountain side which made for a uniquely gorgeous sunset.

When I first visited the island, I went kayaking with --- and was lucky enough to actually have a pod of orcas swim by us not only once, but twice. I was within 5 feet of one who was swimming underneath me and I could see her white belly. One picture I took was evaluated to identify "Granny" by her dorsal fin and saddle patch who is over 90 years old.

Not much further another orcas breached in the water. Slick was identified by her dorsal fin and saddle patch as well. Mostly the orcas were just swimming by, but it was the most amazing experience of my life.

There is one campground on the island that has a beautiful view of the water, sunsets and possibly an orca swimming by. There is also a host of places to stay and for my first visit to the island I stayed at Juniper Lane Guest House that was wonderfully located, run by super nice people and reasonably priced. I hope to visit the island again since I am addicted to the orcas, eagles and beautiful scenery. I highly recommend kayaking, visiting The Whale Museum, and sitting at Lime Kiln Point State Park waiting for the possibility of orcas going by. Oh, and San Juan Island is also the home of Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center which provides second chances for the critters of the island.

There are certain laws about boats to protect the local orca pods. Unfortunately some people are too selfish about a close encounter than actually caring about the animals themselves. I witnessed this boat be extremely inappropriate by getting in the path of a traveling orca. I attempted to contact someone to do something, but cell reception in my location did not allow me to get a hold of anyone. Part of appreciating and enjoying San Juan Island is to respect nature, not behaving like this boat did.