San Juan Islands Wildlife

There is no shortage of remarkable marine, terrestrial and airborne wildlife in the San Juan Islands!

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Birding In The San Juan Islands

Almost 300 species of birds have been recorded in the San Juan Islands. A mix of rural farmland, forest and grassland and over 385 miles of varied shoreline promote large and diverse bird communities. Seabird nesting colonies, migrating marine birds, shorebirds, birds of prey and forest or grassland terrestrials make for exciting birding.

Some of the birds you may see: Black Oystercatcher, Bald Eagle, several varieties of Hawk, Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Great Blue Heron, Common Loon, Red Phalarope, Scoters, Mergansers, Harlequin Duck, Spotted Sandpiper, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Belted Kingfisher, Black Turnstone, Rhinoceros Aucklet, Turkey Vulture, Peregrine Falcon and many more. We have been seriously birding and kayaking in the islands for over three decades making our expeditions unique, educational experiences. Whether you are a novice or an experienced birder, you will find the San Juans to be a beautiful and prolific location for the study and observation of birds.


Whale Watching and Marine Mammals

Spring and Summer find the San Juan Islands home to pods of orca (killer) whales and solitary, baleen minke whales.  All of our expeditions spend time traversing pathways where orcas are most frequently found as they hunt schools of migrating salmon. This gives you the best odds of encountering orcas in the wild of any other kayak outfitter!

Sea kayaking with orca whales can be an awe-inspiring experience of a lifetime.  With weights between 5 and 9 tons and lengths of 25 to 30 feet, observing orca “killer” whales from a kayak is an unforgettable event.  Since orca are social creatures, they can be found in groups of three to 25 and more.  Their breathing sounds and underwater vocalizations make paddling with orcas an audio as well as visual extravaganza.   Past expeditions have witnessed orcas spy-hopping, breaching, lobtailing, hunting or sleeping (we know it sounds funny, but watching whales sleep is one of the most amazing things you will ever witness)!

Meanwhile, humpback whales are making a comeback in island waters, and sightings have increased greatly in the past couple of seasons.  The gentle giants run an eye-popping 50 tons of weight and 60 feet in length.  Hearing a humpback blow is a sound that will resonate in your heart and mind for a lifetime!

Come join us for a sea kayaking adventure with orca whales and wildlife encounters that you will remember forever!

While observing orca whales our small, intimate groups follow Sound WatchNMFS(National Marine Fisheries Service)  guidelines. In addition, our three, four and five-day trips traverse a popular minke whale feeding ground and explore channels inhabited by Dall’s and harbor porpoise. Other wildlife you may see:

  • Common to occasional sightings: humback whales, stellar sea lions, harbor seal, mink, raccoon, deer, big-horned sheep (imported), Sitka deer (imported), prong-horned antelope (imported) and red-tailed fox.

  • Occasional to rare sightings: California sea lions, gray whales, elephant seals.