Protection Island, located just outside of Port Townsend, is a very special place in the summer.
Dry, brown and lonely, it looks like a most inhospitable place. But it is alive with thousands of nesting birds – rhinoceros auklets, glaucous-winged gulls, pigeon guillemots, double-crested and pelagic cormorants, black oyster catchers, and even a few pairs of tufted puffins.
It is for a glimpse of the elusive tufted puffin that many visitors make the trip.
As every birder knows, no guarantee can be made that they will be sighted on every outing, but chances are very good that they will be spotted especially on the south side of the island. Like rhinoceros auklets, for which Protection Island is the major nesting site, the puffin use burrows in the cliffs and uplands to raise one or sometimes two chicks.
The chance to see them carrying many small fish at one time in their bills, or even swimming, flying, or diving, is exciting.
Protection Island Puffin Cruises are produced and hosted by our education partner, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. Proceeds go to support their educational programs.