Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Protection Island

December 31 dawned chilly and clear; the perfect end to a great year. To cap off 2015, Katie and I were invited to join the Protection Island New Year’s Day Cruise run by Puget Sound Express. We were both thrilled to spend our last day of the year out on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Looking out at the water all day from the Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTMSC) pier always makes me yearn to float.

Protection Island
Photo by Charlie Mostow

A view of the Olympic Mountains with Protection Island on the right
Photo by Katie Conroy

We boarded the Red Head over calm water and under clear skies. As if the weather wasn’t enough of a good omen, on trundled Jan North and Katherine Jensen, two fabulous PTMSC volunteers. It was a pleasant surprise to see them out of their full body  rain gear  and elbow length gloves (they are both part of HomeCrew, the team of volunteers that cleans the Marine Exhibit tanks). Rodger Risley, the onboard naturalist, peppered us with fascinating facts about the history of the island and the many birds and mammals we boated past.

A harbor seal in the sunset.
Photo by Katie Conroy
Did you know that Protection Island is home to the largest colony of glaucous-winged gulls in the state? To say nothing of the nesting rhinoceros auklets, pigeon guillemots, and tufted puffins that call the island home in the summer. The day of our cruise was calm. We saw eagles circling overhead, several deer wandering around on Protection Island’s steep slopes, and a few mixed rafts of buffleheads, long-tailed ducks, and goldeneyes. It was wonderful to see the verdant, mellow island and imagine how bustling and wild it will be in only a few months. I spent a summer on a seabird nesting island so I know the sounds, movements, and, yes, smells, of thousands of seabirds very well.

A painting of Point Wilson by Jessica Artman (another Puget Sound Express passenger and a member of my family)
Thanks to Puget Sound Express and to the PTMSC volunteers who make these cruises possible. It was a wonderful way to close out 2015.

Our Spring Migration Cruises begin again on April 23. Reserve your spot today! Tickets are $80 per person — $60 for PTMSC members.

REBECCA MOSTOW is the Marine Exhibit Educator and an AmeriCorps member serving at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.

COMING SOON: The Tides of March Benefit Dinner and Auction is the Center’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Proceeds allow the Center to connect face-to-face with over 20,000 people each year, spreading the message of marine health and local action. Our playful theme this year is Undersea Spree. Register Today!

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't have put it better, myself! Thanks, Rebecca.
    Katherine Jensen


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