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Saturday, September 20, 2008

No whales, lots of wildlife

The residents were still out in the ocean today, and the transients turned west and ended up just out of our reach as we left the dock. It was rainy and hazy and spirits could have been down, but we had a boat full of people ready for an adventure and it turned out to be a pretty phenomenal wildlife trip. The highlights included an amazing encounter with Dall's porpoise, where we had maybe two dozen of them zipping around in all directions, including some "players" that spent a good amount of time bow-riding our boat. It's one of the coolest encounters possible to have with the wildlife here, where the porpoises are actually interacting with us and you can look down into the water and see their whole bodies just feet away. It was one of the best porpoise encounters of the year....I don't know when the last time was (if ever) I've seen that many Dall's in one place, and they were all demonstrating their speed by rooster-tailing all over the place, chasing each other, riding waves. They're the fastest marine mammals on the planet, and today we saw exactly why!

As we cruised past Spieden Island on our way back to Friday Harbor, we saw an amazing amount of animals out grazing on the hillside. There are three exotic species that inhabit the island after it was a game ranch in the late 1970s, and we saw all of them: the Mouflon sheep, fallow deer, and sika deer. There were dozens and dozens of Mouflon and fallow deer - I've truly never seen that many animals at once there. There were even two sika deer mixed in for good measure.

These photos capture the essence of the wildlife we saw today, but were taken earlier in the summer on much sunnier days. It was just too wet to have the camera out today.

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