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. Nearly 70 percent of the nesting seabird population of Puget Sound and the Straits nest on the island, which contains one of the last two nesting colonies of tufted puffins in the Puget Sound area. About 1,000 harbor seals depend upon the island for a pupping and rest area, and elephant seals often haul out to molt there during the summer.
Although we can't guarantee a sighting on every outing, the chance of spotting a puffin on our evening Puffin Cruises is very good.
The Port Townsend Marine Science Center has been leading seasonal wildlife cruises since 1994 to view the changing community of birds and mammals using the sanctuary. Our cruises are hosted by seasoned naturalists and PTMSC interpreters, who provide excellent commentary on the natural history of the island and the wildlife sighted. We look forward to seeing you on a cruise!
The three-hour cruises depart from the Point Hudson Marina. On-board refreshments are available, or you may bring a sack lunch.
PLEASE NOTE: 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.
More about Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge and Protection Island Aquatic Reserve Protection Island’s 364-acres is covered by grass and low brush, with a small timbered area, high sandy bluffs and low sand spits on two ends of the island. This combination of bluffs and sand spits provides excellent habitat for nesting seabirds and the waters around it offer a marine buffet. Located at the start of Admiralty Inlet, Protection Island Aquatic Reserve's nutrient rich waters and areas of shallow bank are unique because of the immense tidal exchange and upwelling where Puget Sound waters meet the Pacific fed waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.