Written by: Jake Hawley, Naturalist & Wildlife Photographer
As a whale watcher starting a new season, part of the excitement is getting reacquainted with the wildlife we see in our waters. While the main thing we’re looking for, of course, is whales, there are so many other types of animals to see both on land and at sea.
One of our regular sightings would be Ollie the Sea Otter. This little guy has been living alone at Race Rocks Ecological Preserve since 2015 (although another sea otter has been spotted near Bedford Islands recently, just a few kilometers west of Race). Recently, we had a very special encounter with Ollie, where our guests got to witness him swimming on his back, and cracking open a mussel with his favorite rock. He eventually got close enough that we could even hear the smacking sound very clearly. Was a first time for myself (Jake Hawley, Naturalist) as well as most of our guests.
Encounters like this are extremely rare, particularly due to the fact that the population of Sea Otters is so low that these animals are considered endangered. During the 18th and 19th century, humans hunted these animals for their fur, which was very valuable due to the fact that there are about 1,000,000 hair follicles per square inch on their bodies, making it VERY dense. Luckily, they were adopted into the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act in the 70’s, and their numbers have been slowly climbing up ever since.
It’s encounters like these that remind us how lucky we are to be able to safely view these animals, and experience the wonders of the Salish Sea, just a boat ride away.
Book your tour with us today to have the opportunity to see the incredible wildlife that call the Salish Sea home.