Just outside of Port Townsend is an amazing National Wildlife Refuge — Protection Island. Nearly 70 percent of the nesting seabird population of Puget Sound and the Straits 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 contains one of the last 2 nesting colonies of tufted puffins in the Puget Sound area. About 1,000 harbor seals depend upon the island for a pupping and rest area.
This 364-acre island is covered by grass and low brush, with a small timbered area, high sandy bluffs for seabird nesting, and low sand spits on two ends of the island.
The Port Townsend Marine Science Center – in collaboration with Puget Sound Express – hosts special expe
ditions to Protection Island. Cruises are scheduled on Saturdays in spring and fall, timed to coincide with annual migrations, with special trips planned for Thanksgiving weekend and New Years Eve.
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The three-hour cruises depart from the Point Hudson Marina and include a stop at Killisut Harbor/Mystery Bay or Smith Island. Naturalists from the Port Townsend Marine Science Center serve as on-board interpreters and provide commentary on local birds, mammals, geology, history and weather. On-board refreshments are available, or you may bring a sack lunch.