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Protection Island and Olympic National Park, by David Gluckman
".... one of the most important habitats on the planet for a rich diversity of water-oriented birds. The cruises are a fun, fascinating way to experience that diversity". —Seattle Post Intelligencer.
The Port Townsend Marine Science Center partners with Puget Sound Express to offer these Migration and Puffin Cruises.
Please note: Links to book cruises will take you to the Puget Sound Express website. If you have questions about the boat or your reservation, please contact them at 360-385-5288.
2023 Cruise Dates
Spring Bird Migration Cruises
3-6 pm | Saturday, April 15, 22
Summer Puffin Cruises
6-9 pm | Saturday, June 24
6-9 pm | Saturday, July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
6-9 pm | Saturday, August 5, 12
Fall Bird Migration Cruises
Tickets for Bird Migration Cruises and Puffin Cruises $90 per person
Proceeds go to support educational programs at PTMSC.
Bird Migration Cruises and Puffin Cruises are booked through Puget Sound Express. The links to the left will take you there.
All cruises are hosted by seasoned naturalists and PTMSC interpreters.
DISCLAIMER: In good weather, cruises typically go through the Protection Island Aquatic Reserve and circumnavigate Protection Island, a National Wildlife Refuge located at the mouth of Discovery Bay. If the weather is rough, the captain may head south toward Port Ludlow to remain in calmer waters. Route is at the Captain's discretion.
Our Bird Migration Cruises offer a unique opportunity for an idyllic natural science adventure, enabling people to gain a better understanding of our marine ecosystems and interrelationships which abound in these waters.
Each summer Protection Island comes alive as thousands of seabirds arrive to breed and raise their young, including rhinoceros auklets, glaucous-winged gulls, pigeon guillemots, black oystercatchers, two kinds of cormorants, and of course the tufted puffin.
For 2023 Puffin tours we are changing our destination from exclusively Protection Island, to potentially Protection Island or Smith Island. In recent years more puffins have been returning to Smith Island so depending on the greater population the captain will ultimately determine which is best to visit for this tour. We will only have time to go to one or the other, not both while out on this tour. Luckily the puffin population in recent years has increased so your chances are good to view them during the summer and at either island.
Although we can't guarantee a sighting on every outing, the chance of spotting a puffin on our evening Puffin Cruises is very good.
Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge is home to breeding, nesting, and flyway populations of marine bird species at different times of the year. The island contains one of the few nesting colonies of tufted puffins in the Puget Sound area. About 1,000 harbor seals use the island as a pupping and rest area, and elephant seals often haul out to molt there during the summer. We have been leading seasonal wildlife cruises to view the changing community of birds and mammals using the sanctuary since 1994. Our cruises are hosted by seasoned naturalists and volunteer hosts, who provide excellent commentary on the natural history of the island and the wildlife sighted. We look forward to seeing you on a cruise!
To learn how Protection Island came to be designated a National Wildlife Refuge through the work of two local women, read The Protection Island Story.
Photo by David Gluckman
Photo by Wendy Feltham
Photo by David Gluckman
Photo by Betsy Carlson
Six photos above by Mike Reudink