Friday, August 8, 2008

San Juan Islands Has it All!!!

Located in the pacific northwest, the San Juan Islands have something for everyone- kayaking, biking, sunshine, great Inns full of charm, incredible shopping and WILDLIFE!!!! Today, the whales were the center of attention, with J Pod showing up at 6:34am on the West Side of the San Juan Island, heading North and close to shore.  They made it to the light and abruptly turned south....
By Noon, they still hadn't made a decision as to what direction they felt like traveling- actively engaged in a hearty round of what people often call "the West Side Shuffle." Lots of socializing, lots of play and a little resting along the way.  As of this writing, at 3:10pm PST- the pod remains south of False Bay, lots of fun to be had by all on the west side today!!!
Killer Whale Breach Postcard postcard
It is important to stress that the wildlife in the pacific northwest is not only cherished but also protected. The National Park Service's Organic Act of 1916 gave us the responsibility to "… conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." Many of the local parks and adjoining areas have been designated as refuge areas by the USFWS.

Like so many beautiful coastal places, the San Juans and commensurate tourism are developing at a rapid pace, natural habitats are being altered and the marine environment is showing signs of stress. Within the County, there are now over 40 listed species of concern. Environmental stewardship begs us to constantly remember how fragile the ecosystem within which we live truly is and consistently focus on our footprint's impact upon the existing fragility - being sure NOT to add to it. 

Just the other day, while at Lime Kiln, we sat on the rocks watching the whales go by. To our right, on an outcropping- a large harbor seal had hauled out to sun himself. Harbor seals often haul out at low tide to digest food, rest, give birth, or nurse young. We watched in AMAZEMENT as 15- 30 people began crawling down the rocks to "get a better picture." The seal became more and more stressed as the onlookers got closer.  Finally, we headed over to the Park Ranger who advised this has been an ongoing problem at the Park, signs have been posted and they're trying to figure out how to keep this from continuing.  In the interim, I hope people realize that while cute, harbor seals are wild animals that reach five to six feet (1.7-1.9 m) in length and weigh up to 300 pounds (140 kg). If disturbed too often, they have been known to abandon favorite haul-out sites or their pups....and this is pupping season in the Islands. So please, remember the law- keep yourself 100 yards away from all wildlife on the islands! The path toward sustainability requires that residents and visitors take personal responsibility  for the natural wealth in order to protect the future for all, reducing our impact in the interim.

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Jeanne said...

This information, put in a very readable-friendly form would do well in a brochure handed out to all who arrive on the island. Mainly because unless people know, they often are so engrossed in what they are trying to capture for a vacation memory, they don't stop to think of the impact.

You blog is wonderful!

Anonymous said...

WOW, That's some picture you got!!! A BREACH!!! 1 in a Millon must have been waiting for years to get that picture! BLOG is wonderfull and keep up the great information - it is a great asset to those of us who look forward to traveling there someday!