Friday Harbor. San Juan Island

Sep 30, 2017 - National Geographic Quest

The Pacific Northwest is a region of transition and overlap. Exploring it aboard the National Geographic Quest allows an in depth and thorough experience of this diverse theme. Travelling from the United States into Canada, wet and dry (and back to wet again!), ship to shore, sea to city, and wilderness to civilization, both new and old. To see and do all this from a vessel gives one a simultaneous sense of displacement and integration. We can be in an environment and yet still remain protected from it, whether transiting the various channels, sounds, and other waterways of this unique and stunning ecosystem of islands. Today as we scoured the horizon of Johnston Strait for wildlife, or “critters” as our natural history team likes to refer to them, we were lucky enough to see some Steller sea lions and even had a small number of Dall’s porpoise bow ride.

Friday Harbor, where we spent our afternoon dodging tumescent clouds with ready raindrops, is a town that has been in a state of flux, adapting to a host of variables since San Juan Island was laid claim by the Hudson Bay Company in 1845.  First used as a salmon curing station it was then adapted for raising sheep, along with a host of other types of farming that still thrive to this day by taking advantage of the favorable weather. San Juan Island is also the site of the historical footnote that was the Pig War between the British and United States. This “dispute” was entirely bloodless, with the exception of a scavenging pig that roamed into the wrong farmer’s potato patch. The result was a drawn out increasing show of force on both sides eventually dissipating without conflict. Today it is a bustling and prosperous port for the several thousand people that call it home and those like us that just visit for a quick taste. 

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About the Author

Ian Strachan

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

One steady constant in Ian’s life has been the ocean. Born by the rocky shores of mid-coast Maine, his family repatriated to far north Queensland in Australia early on in his life where he became a dual-citizen and sparked his passion for exploring new environments. Living only an hour away from the Great Barrier Reef served to direct, if not focus, the exhilaration of discovery and set him on his current path. Returning to native soil for education, Ian was fascinated by altogether too many subjects, leaving him with a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College in Psychobiology, focusing on animal behavior and perception, and with minors in Astronomy, History, and Environmental Science.

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