April 23rd started out a little bit chilly and overcast, but a few sunbreaks came out too.  A pretty typical “mixed bag” of weather for early spring in the San Juan Islands.  We had no reports of orcas before leaving the dock, so we headed north in San Juan Channel in search of wildlife.  Our first encounter came at the amazing Spienden Island.  Here we saw one of the islands many residents, the Mouflon Sheep.  These sheep are native to Corsica, halfway around the world.  They were brought here in the 1970s and a resident herd has remained.  They are a beautiful and powerful animal related to the Big Horn Sheep of North America.  Along the southern shore of Spieden Island we also spotted 3 bald eagles.  We had heard from another boat that were also Steller Sea Lions in the area, but we were unsuccessful in spotting them.  We hoped to find them on our return trip.  After Spieden Island we went through little John’s Pass, between Stuart and John’s Island.  It is always fun going through this little body of water.  On the way back to Friday Harbor we stopped at the Cactus Islands to show our guests a very large bald eagle’s nest.  These nests can be as big a Volkswagen Beetle!  Those Steller Sea Lions were still high on our priority list, so we went looking for them.  With a little help from another boat on the water we were able to find them.  There were close to a half of a dozen!  The other vessels left the scene and we were alone with the foraging sea lions.  Our patience paid off when we saw one of the sea lions come to the surface with a large fish in its mouth.  Sea lions have to tear their prey apart into chunks that they can swallow.  When they do this they make a lot of commotion.  This commotion draws other sea lions and also lots of seagulls to pick up the smaller pieces.  We watched one sea lion try to get down a rather large chunk of fish for more than five minutes.  He finally was able to choke it down.  How exciting!

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We have not finalized our 2021 trip dates yet: please contact us with your desired trip dates so we can work to accommodate your request.