On this, our first morning together, we gathered by ones and twos out on the bow, dressed for the cool misty Pacific Northwest weather in fleece and raincoats and our hands wrapped around comforting cups of steaming fresh hot coffee. Green islands draped in gray clouds and blue-gray seawater streaked with currents and flotsam surround us. Near the ship we started to notice the seabirds working in the currents.
Rhinoceros auklets were one of the big stars of the day. They appear comical with their remarkable little rhino’s horn, yet quite regal in their amazing white streaks of breeding plumage. Other members of the alcid family were also abundant around the San Juan Islands today. Marbled murrelets and common murres dove for fish while pigeon guillemots dangled their dainty scarlet feet as they lifted off.
By midmorning, blue bits began to open in the sky and sunscreen and sunglasses were necessary to continue the bow watch. Several small cetaceans joined and rejoined the feeding groups as well as a number of gull species. After several close encounters, we delighted in distinguishing between harbor and Dall’s porpoise’ dorsal fins. Another feeding frenzy developed near a floating log occupied by a resting harbor seal and surrounded by delicate Bonaparte’s and mew gulls. As we drew near to the busy feeding group, a seemingly fearless bald eagle (pictured above) flew in and frightened off the seal.
And so our day continued. After a brief afternoon customs stop in Sidney, BC, we sojourned through Canada’s Gulf Islands, actively soaking up the sun under clear blue skies and thoroughly enjoying the spectacular natural beauty and bountiful sea life as we sail through Active Pass and on into Georgia Strait.
We are northbound and ready for exploring the wild places that await us.