San Juan IslandsPhotos, Pictures, Prints

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Information about San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands are an archipelago in the northwest corner of the United States. Of the islands, four are accessible by passenger ferry. The others require a boat or kayak to get to.

In the nineteenth century, loggers stripped areas of the islands bare. However, today the islands boast extensive second-growth forests of Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii), Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii), red alder (Alnus rubra) and bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum).

Despite the islands’ previous logging, there are still rare stands of old-growth Douglas fir and western redcedar (Thuja plicata).

The San Juan Islands host the greatest concentration of bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in the contiguous United States. Great blue herons (Ardea herodias), black oystercatchers (Haematopus bachman), and numerous shorebirds live and hunt along the shore. Additionally, the islands shelter trumpeter swans (Cygnus buccinator), Canada goose (Branta canadensis) and other waterfowl.

Furthermore, the islands’ waters house several pods of orcas (Orcinus orca). There are three resident pods that eat salmon, but also some transient orcas take harbor seals (Phoca vitulina). Other marine mammals here include the river otter (Lontra canadensis), Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus), common minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), Dall’s porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli) and other cetaceans.

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