Protection Island Wildlife Refuge
Sequim is a special place on the Olympic Peninsula. Located in the rain shadow of the towering Olympic Mountains, the climate in Sequim is unusually dry and sunny when compared to many other locales in the Pacific Northwest. The dry climate, similar to that found in the Provence region in France, has allowed lavender plants to flourish here, earning Sequim the nickname the “Lavender Capital of North America.” The third weekend in July marks the annual Lavender Festival in Sequim. Throughout this busy and popular weekend, there are several wonderful events happening in the Sequim Area. One of these events happens to be a very special opportunity to visit the nesting Tufted Puffins and other wildlife at Protection Island.
Puffins at Protection Island
Protection Island, located just off the shore from neighboring Port Townsend, is a designated National Wildlife Refuge. It has been said that over 70% of the nesting seabirds of Puget Sound nest on the shores of Protection Island. This protected space serves an important purpose in the Puget Sound, as it provides some of the last remaining undeveloped habitat for many burrow-nesting seabirds in the Salish Sea. Of the seabirds that call Protection Island home are one of the largest nesting colonies of rhinoceros auklets, and the largest nesting colony of glaucous-winged gulls in Washington. Protection Island is also home to one of the last 2 nesting colonies of tufted puffins in the Puget Sound area, as well as about 1,000 harbor seals. The only way to visit this protected resource is by boat, although boats must remain a minimum of 200 feet offshore to prevent disturbing island residents.
During the Sequim Lavender Festival, the Dungeness River Audubon Center is offering a sunset dinner cruise to Protection Island to view the nesting Tufted Puffins and other wildlife. The cruise takes place aboard the 55 passenger, 65-foot Glacier Spirit. The cruise, which leaves from the John Wayne Marina, is about 2 hours long. Along with dinner, guests will enjoy a narrated program on marine bird life and marine mammals found between Sequim and Protection Island. You can expect to see Tufted Puffins, Rhinoceros Auklets, and other sea birds. If you’re unable to get to Sequim for the Lavender Festival Weekend, there are still wildlife cruises available in the area with Puget Sound Express. Puffin Cruises are offered during the summer, and other birdwatching cruises are offered throughout the year.
Visit Sequim this summer, and discover why this charming northwest town is so remarkably different. Contact our experienced Sequim Real Estate Agents if you have any questions, or if we can help you in any way.