Sucia Island and Cruising San Juan Islands

Oct 18, 2019 - National Geographic Venture

We concluded our expedition in the Pacific Northwest by exploring picturesque Sucia Island, one of the many islands that make up the San Juan Archipelago. Comprised entirely of sedimentary rock and nearly entirely forested, it provided a perfect setting for our last operations of the week. Setting out in almost all directions on the well-manicured trails of this State Park, and from the driftwood strewn beach, we launched our kayaks in the protected waters of Shallow Bay. Still others set out by Zodiac to examine the many nooks and crannies of the shoreline and witness the current and windswept seas bringing productivity to the fish and birds that call these waters home.

After wrapping up our morning outings we set out in search of wildlife, cruising the many channels that wind their way through the various islands in the Salish Sea. As luck would have it, we came across a group of 9 Biggs (transient) killer whales. These largest members of the dolphin family are common in these waters but are constantly on the move in search of prey such as harbor seals, porpoises, and Steller sea lions. It would appear this tight-knit family group had just recently made a kill as they were being very playful at times, breaching, tail lobbing, and spy hopping, as well as rolling along the surface in close contact with each other, likely portioning their recent kill. It was a truly grand performance and an iconic and fitting conclusion to our expedition in this rich and diverse area of the world.

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About the Author

Doug Gualtieri


Doug’s passion for the natural world started at an early age in his home state of Michigan. He received two biology degrees from Central Michigan University, and later went on to get a master’s degree in conservation biology. His education led him to study a diverse range of natural sciences, with an emphasis on ecology, animal behavior, and migratory birds. Shortly after leaving the academic world, Doug migrated north to Alaska with his trusty Siberian husky, Koda. He began working as a naturalist in Denali National Park in 1999. For over seven years he has shared his love of Alaska and Denali’s six million acres with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic guests, as trip leader for the Denali Land Extension based at the North Face Lodge deep within the park.

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