Stewardship, Preservation, and Wildlife Sightings While Underway

By Naturalist Kate Perkins

Map of the Puget Sound Conservation Areas courtesy of the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee (

The Schooner Zodiac has already had a season rich in marine mammals, exploration of life in the intertidal zone during shore visits, and many sea bird sightings as we are underway. As the Zodiac passes through the Puget Sound, we get to enjoy the rich habitats protected by the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Together, with the goals of research, education, recreation, and conservation, these organizations protect the vitality of the Puget Sound through designations such as Marine Protected Area, National Wildlife Refuge, and Sensitive Eelgrass Areas.

While whale sightings have been a bit more elusive, the ship has been visited regularly by Harbor Porpoises. These marine mammals are cetaceans, a category which also includes whales and dolphins. After experiencing a severe population decline in the 1970s, the Harbor Porpoise made a comeback, which has been attributed to a decline in gill net use and pollutants entering the water from industry ( We also often see the shy Harbor Seal as it swims with just the top of its head visible above the water.

In addition to marine mammals, we get to experience a diversity of organisms on shore. The intertidal zone (where the sea meets the shore) hosts marine invertebrates such nudibranchs, barnacles, sea anemones, and sea stars, as well as a macrophytes (marine plants) and algae. Shore visits are rich in plants such as Oregon Grape, Manzanita, and Madrone trees. Some anchorage sites, such as Spencer Spit, host a National Wildlife Refuge with protections in place for sea birds and land animals.

We had a Wonderful Spring Sailing Season!

Thank you to everyone who made the Zodiac’s 2017 Spring Cruises a success!

Now that we’ve reached Summer it’s nice to take the time to look back on how incredible the early sailing season has been for the Zodiac, her crew and of course the fantastic passengers who enable us to maintain and sail the 93 year old ship!

We wrapped up our frigid maintenance projects in March and began sailing with a trim new transom. We have been very fortunate to be joined by several local Pacific Northwest High Schools, organizations and folks from the public during the last three months! We’ve enjoyed overnight educational sails, our 4-day Lighthouse Tour,  Our first Port Call in Tacoma in a nearly a decade and an exquisite Mother’s Day Brunch Sail on Bellingham Bay! Here are some snap shots from the beginning of our 2017 sailing season!

Welcome to Our New Website

Looking to the Future!

After a decade of faithful service from our old website it was decided that we needed to modernize and have a more mobile friendly site. We worked with Peter James Studio here in Bellingham and they designed a programmed a beautiful site that functions extremely well. We would also like to thank our crew member Taylor Hodges for the use of many of his beautiful pictures and video content which adorn the site.  And last, but not least we would like to thank Rory Maclysaght and Gunnar Goerlitz our previous webmasters for tirelessly keeping the old site updated and special thanks to Rory for helping with the transition to the new one.

Please explore the new website and check out what the Zodiac is up to for her 2017 sailing season. We ask for both feedback and patience while we get everything online and shipshape! We hope to see you aboard soon!