2023 Princess Louisa Flotilla – Day 10 Sucia Island | NW Explorations


2023 Princess Louisa Flotilla – Day 10 Sucia Island

At 9:00 a.m., we departed Roche Harbor and made our way along Spiden Island just as we had on the first day of the Flotilla. This time, we were able to clearly see the exotic deer, probably the spotted deer also known as Chital. These deer have a golden rufus coloring speckled with white spots and a white underbelly gives them a graceful appearance. They have a lifespan of 20-30 years and are the most common deer in Indian forests.

Zaya cruises along the shore of Spiden Island for a closer look.

This majestic bald eagle was perched  atop a Douglass fir snag growing at the edge of the cliff overlooking the water. Perfect for spotting a salmon swimming in the channel below. Eagles can see a lot more detail than we can due to five times as many light sensing cells packed into their eyes, 80% of which are cones.

With the new moon so recent, the currents are intense today! At the end of Spiden, we watched a river of water race and churn around the corner from the back of the island. The current was so strong that the level of the water was visibly uneven as water stacked up along the corner. And although we remained clear of the obvious rips, there were times we could only travel 4 knots against it. With the rips comes plenty of food as the eagle well knows.

How lucky! We spotted a humpback and her calf. They were traveling slowly and making shallow dives probably to accommodate the young calf’s ability. They traveled close at all times and at first, it was difficult to discern the calf. When humpback whales dive deep, they round their backs like a spring and plunge into the depths and at the last moment, raise their flukes high above the water making them easy to spot. This pair was not diving deeply so the flukes were only slightly raised before the dive and the pair returned to the surface sooner.

As we approached Sucia Island we notice the cavernous weathering of the rocks along the shore that is so typical of this island. The honeycomb weathering of the sandstone produces a mosaic of pits separated by thin walls. This is caused by saltwater erosion and hardening of the wall of the pit by algae and other marine organisms. More harbor seals were hauled out and resting in the sun.

The Zaya and Double O’ Seven crews on our hike to Fossil Bay….why? To find fossils, what else?

Bill and Sandi take a well-deserved rest to enjoy the view.

One of the many fossils that can be found on the outside wall of Fossil Bay. These fossils are part of the Nanaimo Formation and were laid down in an ancient sea about 80 million years ago. All of the fossils in this formation are marine creatures. We also found an ammonite about 6-7 inches across. We had a good time looking for fossils and since we were right along the shore, we took some time to become familiar with some of the marine critters exposed during the low tide. A good time was had by all and after an hour or do, we made our way back through the forest to Echo Bay where our boats were anchored. Both Zaya and Double O’ Seven spotted a sea lion frisking near their boats.

Over the course of the 10-day flotilla we have seen many marine mammals including river otter, harbor porpoise, harbor seal, sea lion, humpback whale and orca whale, as well as numerous birds including pigeon guillemot, marbled murrelet, great blue heron, oyster catcher, bald eagle, grebe, rhinoceros auklet, Canada goose, double crested cormorant just to name a few. We have learned about plants, algae, lichens, and a lot about tides and currents. Indigenous people of the Salish Sea and some of the history of the early European explorers and even a little geology was learned. It has been an amazing adventure getting to cruise and share time with interesting people from all over the US and Canada. Tomorrow we have a short cruise back to Bellingham to disembark and return home.

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