The San Juan Islands Natural Areas Project was conceived by Terry Domico about 18 years ago. There are many small ecologically important areas in the San Juan Islands that escape the attention of the public, government policy makers, and even environmentalists. This web site is intended to heighten public consciousness about the value these areas and about the significance in preserving them.
Terry Domico's book, Natural Areas of the San Juan Islands, is published !
For information about the book, click here.
To buy, click here.
"I am lying flat on my back atop a sun-drenched moss-covered rocky bluff. Below, placid seawater languidly laps the rocky shore with a hypnotic slosh-slursh-slosh sound. In the madrona tree above my head a twittering territorial argument between two wrens is starting to lull me to sleep. I am drifting in and out of a contented puffy cloud-filled dream when it happens. A sharp exhalation sound, like a tire blowing out on the freeway, shocks me back to my senses.
Sitting up, I look about for the source of this interruption... and there it is, no... there THEY are. Fifty feet below and not much further out from shore are four very large black and white animals... whales... Orca!
Looking down, I can see them swim underwater... two of them have turned over, up-side-down, and their white belly markings (now turned green by the sea's depth) are plainly in view.
I scramble down the rock for a closer view. At a point only ten feet above the water, there is a rocky knob where I can crouch and stare at the huge swimming forms swimming silently below me. They twist and turn... one comes to the surface to exhale and inhale. It's breathing reminds me of a giant rubber inner-tube being filled. I stare... fascinated.
The whales dive deep... out of sight. They are gone... now for a whole minute... then two. I begin scanning the surrounding sea, wondering where they might surface. A dark movement below, a shadow perhaps, catches my eye... but before I have time to focus, the huge shape breaks the surface. Straight up... up until it is beside me in space. For a moment, the whale and I look into each other's eyes... then gravity breaks the spell and it falls back into the sea with a tremendous splash.
Clinging to my rock perch, I stare into foaming swirl, expecting, hoping, for another visit, but the animal is gone... I know. In the distance, three black crescent-shaped fins break the surface, followed by a puff of breath-induced water spray. As they roll lazily back under the shining suface, a fourth fin briefly appears behind them.
The next time they appear, they are nearly out of sight around a turn of the coastline. Now they are gone and the sea continues its languid slosh.
When I regain my mossy bed under the madrona, I am awake and excited by my experience. Somehow, the flowers now seem a little brighter and the arguing of the little birds has resolved itself into a perfect chorus. I feel part of this web of life here. I am home."
- Terry Domico
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