San Juan Islands & Gulf Islands, 10/17/2019, National Geographic Venture
National Geographic Venture
Today we awoke dockside in the port of the small town of
Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. San Juan Island is the second largest island
in the archipelago, and is enjoyed for its beautiful scenery and marine and
Tours of the island took guests to San Juan Island National
Historic Park and Lime Kiln State Park, where they explored some of the most
scenic overlooks in the Salish Sea on foot. Others visited a biodynamic organic
farm and learned how locals take sustainability into their own hands by eating
In the afternoon we cruised through the San Juan/Gulf Island
Archipelago spotting wildlife and enjoying the intermittent showers.
Katie Mo started her career as a naturalist on Catalina Island where she taught marine science outdoor education and SCUBA diving. Her passion for conservation biology then led her to pursue a Masters degree in marine science at Western Washington Un...
On our final day aboard National Geographic Venture , we visited Sucia Island and explored its incredible geology and fossils. Formed through thousands and thousands of years of sediment accumulation from glacial silt washing downstream, Sucia Island is home to stunning sandstone sculptures and fossils trapped in time. Located on the northern part of the San Juan Islands, Sucia Island is home to various marine mammals and seabirds alike, with harbor seal haul-outs, gulls, and great blue herons galore. The morning was spent kayaking and taking Zodiacs around the “dirty” waters that give the island its name. Despite the rain, spirits were high, and the feeling of adventure and excitement continued as it has all week. Too bad we will not be back soon to discover all the fungi and mycelium networks that flourished from today’s rainfall! Our afternoon and evening featured hiking to Fossil Beach to observe traces of the ancient life that once thrived in this region. With emotional and pun-filled recaps, a final delicious dinner, and one last trip down memory lane during our guest slideshow, we couldn’t have asked for a better voyage to complete our Pacific Northwest itinerary. What a treat!
After days of sunshine and warm temperatures, the “raincoast” delivered some authentic fall weather today. The day started with a thick fog as we cruised into Friday Harbor and cleared Customs. By the time we reached Lime Kiln Lighthouse on the west side of San Juan Island, the fog had lifted, giving us picturesque views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca with Vancouver Island silhouetted along the horizon. We were able to tour the gorgeous lighthouse that, in addition to still being operational, serves as an interpretive spot for the southern resident orca whales that frequent the area. In recent years, this unique population of whales has shrunk to 73 individuals due to a variety of reasons, especially decreased salmon populations. In the evening, two members of the Center for Whale Research came aboard to discuss their most recent findings and what must be done to ensure that these intelligent and charismatic animals continue to populate these waters for generations. The San Juan Islands are also home to a little-known piece of U.S./U.K. history. Known as the Pig War, a nonviolent confrontation over the border took place between the two countries. It was settled after much dispute. For twelve years, American and British camps occupied opposite sides of the island until an arbitrator ruled in favor of the Americans, and the border was drawn in Haro Strait, west of San Juan Island. The sites of the two camps are now national parks, and the eerie fog that drifted up the treeless hills added to the overall environment, reminding us that, despite the dry weather, fall and Halloween are right around the corner.
National Geographic Venture docked on the southern tip of Vancouver Island in Victoria, British Columbia just after 8:00 a.m. this morning. The capital city of British Columbia was named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and, at the time, British North America. Founded in 1843, it is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest. Known as the “Garden City,” Victoria enjoys a mild maritime climate and is famous for both public and private gardens, which help keep it consistently ranked in the top twenty cities worldwide for quality of life. During the ‘Secret Garden’ tour, guests explored the British Royal Family’s grounds and immaculate gardens. Stunning redwood trees greeted us upon entry, soaring to the sky. The final two gardens were viewed after a recharge stop for coffee and pastries. Time only permitted a maximum of two activities, and there were plenty to choose from. A local historian led a walking tour through downtown Victoria, highlighting the importance of the buildings around us and how they came to be. Some guests donned helmets and saw the city by bicycle, ending at the area’s tallest totem. Still others enjoyed Victoria with a First Nations cultural tour, eating bannock and smoked salmon with Sharon. While staff joined in the fun by touring the city in the morning, the undersea team had a different idea for the afternoon. It seemed no Lindblad dive team had ever explored the underwater area just outside of town. The only barriers to penetrating the waters of Victoria turned out to be time and travel. To overcome the travel barrier, our dedicated dive team pushed a cart nearly a mile to the breakwaters in hopes of helping our guests understand a bit more about what is going on beneath the water in Victoria. While the secrets of what was seen will stay a secret until tomorrow, I can tell you it was a rather incredible scuba dive! We did our best to help everyone conserve a little energy for the cherry on top of our whirlwind visit: a private cocktail hour and viewing of the Robert Bateman Gallery. Robert Bateman has been a longtime friend of Lindblad expeditions, even hosting guests in his private home in the early days. While sampling some delicious sparkling rosé and munching on mushroom-topped chickpea cakes, guests were dazzled as they learned more about the artwork and the artist.