In the San Juan Islands, we are blessed with an abundance of wildlife. We are one of 7 places on Earth with a high population of orcas. Almost every single day for the past two weeks we have seen them off the west side of our very own island, San Juan. The west side of the island is where the land based whale watching park is located. Like a stationary sentinel, it watches the orcas foraging off the cliffs below. We are one of the few places in the world where you can see ‘black and whites’ almost every single day for at least 3 months of the year.
These islands are a renowned vacation destination because of their natural beauty. People come here for miles of driftwood beaches, blackberries you can pick off the bushes, orca calves breaching and harbor seal pups with fetal folds still visible. They want to see the sun glint off the water and let their mind relax, watching the bull kelp swaying slowly. The reason the San Juan Islands are so relaxing is because of snow capped peaks, seas and forests stretching off into the distance. The San Juans had thoughtful planners in the form of The Nature Conservancy and The Land Bank who buy land simply to preserve it. That way generations from now, people can still enjoy the San Juans as a premiere vacation destination.
One of the things the BP spill has highlighted is our interdependence on nature. Like the San Juans, there is a thriving eco-tourism business in the Gulf that the spill has destroyed. It’s also destroyed the fishing industry. Those examples are only the tip of the iceberg as to how this spill has affected resources for years to come. The fact is, how we treat the Earth has a huge impact on all of our lives. And the effect on the economy in the Gulf proves that. Its not just wetlands, marine mammals and endangered sea turtles that are dying. Its people’s livelihoods. We are absolutely dependent on resources and this spill has mismanaged many of them.
In the San Juans, we know that a similar spill would be devastating. We keep an emergency rescue tug at Neah Bay to attend to tankers in trouble. They have rescued several over the years, who for one reason or another, have found themselves ‘not under command.’ We also have a dedicated clean up crew in the form of Island Oil Spill Association (IOSA). Many committed and forward thinking community members make our pristine environment possible.
San Juan Safaris