23RD PAGE - Protection Island Nat'l Wildlife Refuge
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Lori & I are thrilled to be selected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the official volunteer caretakers of 364-acre Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge in the Strait of Juan de Fuca 60 miles northwest of Seattle. We'll follow our friends Tom & Margarita on the Island as they finish their time there at the end of Mar 09. (We note the Island is closed to the public as it is a sensitive seabird nesting and seal haulout refuge, and boaters may not approach the Island shore closer than 200 yards. Prohibiting approach closer than 200 yards is necessary to protect fragile seabird nesting and seal pupping.) + In Jun 08 we completed and passed the Department of the Interior-required boat operator's course taught by the US FWS. We had the privilege of going to the Island in June for an official visit with Tom & Margarita. (We learned our duties on the Island and got proficient with and checked-out on the boat we'll use.) Then, in July, we stayed on the Island six days as the official temporary volunteer caretakers while Tom & Margarita were out of the state. It was a wonderful experience for us and we look forward all the more to our "tour-of-duty" on the Island starting Apr 09. + The Island is a wonderland. Rhinoceros auklets, tufted puffins, pigeon guillemots, black oystercatchers, double-crested and pelagic cormorants, glaucous-winged gulls, and bald eagles nest on the Island. The Island also has a large harbor seal haulout and smaller numbers of elephant seals. About 70 percent of the nesting seabird population of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca nest on the island, which includes one of the largest nesting colonies of rhinoceros auklets in the world and the largest nesting colony of glaucous-winged gulls in Washington. The Island has one of the last two nesting colonies of tufted puffins in the Puget Sound area. About 1,000 harbor seals depend on the Island for pupping and resting.