Your Guide to Responsible Wildlife Viewing on San Juan Island

There are so many sublime sentient beings to observe in the wild on San Juan Island. Its Lime Kiln State Park is one of the best spots to see Killer whales from land in the world. Humpbacks, porpoises, dolphins and Greys populate the pristine waters around the isle. So do seals, sea lions and otters. Over 300 migratory and non-migratory birds make San Juan a birding paradise with the highest concentration of Bald Eagles (one breeding pair per mile of coastline) anywhere in Washington State. Wildlife habitat is fragile and precious and beautiful and will only be here for our grandkids to enjoy if we treat it with respect. Will you help us?

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Be Whale Wise

The most famous, but also most threatened orcas in the Salish Sea are the Southern Resident Killer Whales, declared endangered in 2005. Only 74 whales are left in that lineage. When out on the water, please always stay 400 yards away from Residents and reduce your speed to 7 knots when within a half a mile of Orcas.

Keep your Distance on Land too

When on the beach or prairie, leave room for the foxes and otters to frolic and hunt and feel safe. Stay at least 75 feet away. Bring your binoculars. Never chase, harass or pet a wild animal.

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Orcas on San Juan Island by Emily Schaller
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Shhhh...

Be still. Be present. Turn your cell off. Have you ever heard a whale sing, seen Bald Eagles mate in the air, smelled the Stellar sea lions even before you saw them?

Don’t feed Wild Animals

Not even an apple core or egg shells. Animals accustomed to human food aren’t wild anymore and often become problematic or sick.

Keep your Pup on the Leash and clean up after them

There are so many challenges for our wildlife. Being harassed by an off-leash dog in your den when you have new babies shouldn’t be one of them.

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San Juan Island, Washington
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Watch what you Eat (and Drink)

Eat wild fish so as to not support the environmentally very unsound practice of fish farming. Avoid Chinook or King Salmon. Our Resident Orca’s decline is directly linked to the decline of King salmon, their main food source. Pay attention to how far your food and drink has travelled and how it’s packaged. Do you really need a beer imported from Holland, when you can have a Yachter’s Daughter Helles Lager or San Juan Pilsener from San Juan Brewing around the corner?

Eyes on the Road

San Juan Island’s darling winding roads through lush valleys and along dramatic shoreline give a false sense of security. Please watch the road with an eagle’s eye. For deer and foxes, for kids and bikers. Drive the speed limit. Don’t get distracted by the stunning views. Be sober. Pay extra attention at night. Thank you!

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San Juan Island, Washington
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Leave only Footprints

Be a good steward of this precious island space and pack out all of your garbage and pet waste. Bring an extra bag and pick up garbage from the beach. The worst culprits are Styrofoam and decaying plastic. Those look like food to wild animals and harm them. Leave the gorgeous flowers and pretty stones and shells, so the next person may enjoy them as well. Stay on designated trails and have so much fun.

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San Juan Island, Washington
Bird Rock Hotel Washington