Counting Deer on Protection Island

Yesterday I went with a group, led by our Refuge Biologist, to Protection Island. The purpose of our visit to this island, which is closed to the public, was to do a count of the black-tailed deer on the island to monitor changes to the population. This is done every year to see how the numbers increase or decrease, and if there are noticeable features, such as disease, affecting them. Any carcasses are also counted.

The deer swim over to the island – it is a couple of miles offshore – and are pretty good swimmers from what I am told.

I was up in the water tower helping to monitor the first half of the island survey with the biologist, while other teams were walking through the forested and brushy areas and along some of the old platted roads from when the island was going to be developed as a floating subdivision decades ago. As you can see from the video, it was a beautiful day and the scenery is gorgeous. The tower looks like the Shady Rest Motel should be next to it.

Water Tower on Protection Island

Water Tower on Protection Island

I am not quite sure how much detail you will be able to see, but here are a few details on the video. The snow-capped Olympic Mountains are absolutely gorgeous in the background. The crew on the boats just off the coast as the video starts are diving for geoduck clams – the huge, obnoxious-looking clams that you can look up and make your own decisions as to what they look like. Lew, the caretaker out there, said that one of the guys told him the boat can make $2000 a day harvesting them. The area of many houses you see in the first part of the video as I go around the tower is an area know as Diamond Point (where I took a bike ride to a few weeks ago). As I go around the tank and you see the ladder at the bottom of the screen the land ahead is, I believe, the area north of Seattle looking towards the Cascades. A bit further around the corner looking north you will see the San Juan Islands, yet more parts of our Refuge. Finally, as  I continue around and the researcher house comes into view from below, if you look across the water you will see some faint white spots – that is Victoria, British Columbia.

It is a cool place to see and be, but it is also helping with and learning the science aspect of it and I am enjoying being able to get involved with that. Not many people get to see this place so close so I am fortunate in that as well the opportunities to help however I can.

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