Washington's waterways and shorelines are teeming with wildlife and make for a perfect outdoor classroom. Nature lovers will find many opportunities to observe whales and other marine mammals, bald eagles, and a variety of shore birds and waterfowl in their natural habitat. In spring gray whales can be seen just off the Pacific coast at Westport during their annual migration to northern feeding grounds in the Bering Sea. There are ninety-six orca whales that make the waters within a 200-mile radius of the San Juan Islands their permanent home. Lime Kiln State Park, on the west side of San Juan Island, is dedicated specifically to whale watching from land and provides an excellent lookout for spotting orca pods. Harbor seals are often seen hauled out in the protection of coastal estuaries for the birthing and nursing of young pups. Birders can view migratory and native birds nesting on offshore islands, and in rocky outcroppings and snags along the water's edge.
Washingtonians are dedicated to the protection and preservation of their environment, but more than happy to share it with those who respect and appreciate these unique ecosystems. The consequences of approaching wildlife can be very serious so it's essential to note these basic wildlife viewing ethics: go softly and quietly, use binoculars or zoom lenses for getting close up, give nesting sites and haul out areas a wide birth, do not beach or launch watercraft at low tide (when most feeding activity takes place), and do not try to approach or feed any animals. Many species, including whales and harbor seals, are also protected by federal law: all vessels, from chartered power boats to human-powered kayaks, should not approach marine mammals within 100 yards/meters on the open water and within 200 yards/meters on shore; herding, chasing, or separating groups is strictly prohibited; and, if approached by marine mammals, kayakers should cluster up and move out of the way, and all other craft should either continue on course at the same or slower speed or stop and wait for the animals to move away. Qualified guides should aware of these rules, so for the sake of the animals don't hesitate to question their operation.
Whale watching enthusiasts can learn more about these wonderful creatures and the guidelines for viewing them by attending seminars on the gray whale at the Westport Maritime Museum and by visiting The Whale Museum on San Juan Island. Naturalists will be on board the Washington State Ferries out of Anacortes during the summer to answer questions about orca whales and other local marine life in the San Juan Islands, and some tour companies also have naturalists available on their excursions.
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San Juan Safaris
800-450-6858 or 360-378-1323
San Juan Safaris specializes in small-personalized tours. They are noted for their expert & friendly naturalist guides, attention to detail & respectful wildlife viewing. The owner has over 30 yrs experience in eco-tourism.
Deer Harbor Charters
PO Box 303, Deer Harbor, Orcas Is, 98243
(800) 465-4604 or (360) 293-2428
1020 Q Ave - Cap Sante Marina, Anacortes 98221
Orca Whale Watching Tours
Private Boat Tours
(877) 968-3633 Toll Free
4331 Terrace Drive #B, Everett, WA 98203-2205
Private Whale watching in the San Juan Islands from romantic LaConner, WA. Only 75 minutes from Seattle. Ideal for couples and families or small private groups of up to 6 people. Tours include a comfortable luxury high-speed sport boat focussing on wildlife; whales and the majestic beauty of the San Juans formed by glaciers thousands of years ago. Your private guide "Captain Hollywood" will take you thru spectacular Deception Pass and the 175 island archipelago in search of the Killer (Orca) Whales, Bald Eagles and whatever else comes to view in the "Banana Belt" of Washington State. Book early as this best kept (Seattle) secret is becoming very popular with tourists, agents and hotel concierges. PrivateBoatTours.com uses a whale spotting service and is hydrophone equipped so you can hear the whales if they're talking!
Western Prince Cruises
#2 Spring St, PO Box 418, Friday Harbor, San Juan Is, 98250
Whale watch & wildlife tours depart Friday Harbor, just 1/2 block from ferry landing. Great crew, always naturalist guided. Specializing in island cruises since 1986. We always observe whale friendly Federal and Local guidelines.
Season: April thru mid-October.
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