40TH PAGE – PROTECTION ISLAND NAT’L WILDLIFE REFUGE 2009 & 2010 Peter A Davis Lori J Davis peterloridavis
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For a year, starting the end of March 2009, we lived on 364-acre Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge as volunteer caretakers for U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. (As we noted in our photos on Page 23, Protection Island is in the Strait of Juan de Fuca 60 miles northwest of Seattle. The Island is closed to the public, as it’s a sensitive seabird nesting and seal haulout refuge, and boaters may not approach the Island closer than 200 yards from shore--it must be closed as a measure to protect fragile seabird nesting and seal pupping.) The Island is a wonderland. Rhinoceros auklets, tufted puffins, pigeon guillemots, black oystercatchers, double-crested and pelagic cormorants and glaucous-winged gulls, in addition to bald eagles and other upland birds, nest on the Island. The Island also has a large harbor seal haulout and small 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. It also 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. (For a short period during the summer months there is about 165,000 nesting and young birds on this lovely 364-acre Island.) It's covered with grass and low brush and has a small timber area, high sandy bluffs for seabird nesting and low sand spits on its west and south-east ends. During our year on the Island we were the only people permanently living there.