The islands of the Puget Sound are home to one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world! Most of us choose to live here because we like being surrounded by nature and wildlife. Although Bainbridge Island is only a quick ferry ride from the big city, the rural terrain allows wildlife to thrive. Here’s a rundown of some of the species you may encounter while visiting or living on Bainbridge Island.
Seals & Sea Lions
What’s the difference between these two species? Seals are smaller with smaller flippers, while sea lions have large brown flippers that they use to “walk” on land. Sea lions also communicate with each other by barking, while seals are much quieter animals.
Porpoises & Orca Whales
One of the most majestic creatures, whales are easily spotted in the Puget Sound, and seeing them in the wild is an incredible experience. Orcas are excellent predators who are extremely intelligent. If you spot one in the wild, it’s likely nearby its other 3-5 orca pod members. Porpoises are much smaller white and black marine mammals. They are often mistaken for orcas from afar, but their bodies have a different, thicker shape.
There are many types of birds that you might spot on Bainbridge Island. Many species of birds are only around for part of the year, and usually, have migrated by the time summer comes. This makes the fall and winter months perfect for bird watching. Just a few off the long list of birds you might see are bald eagles, loons, great herons, and tufted puffins.
Coyotes, Cougars, and Black Bears
Coyotes have adapted well to the island. They are naturally shy species and are not aggressive towards people when left alone. Cougars are an endangered species, who have been occasionally spotted on the island. They are strong swimmers who occasionally visit the island, but never stay long. These fascinating animals are silent and strong, as well as one of the most efficient predators in North America.
It is possible that you may spot a black bear on the Bainbridge, although these bears typically avoid people. These bears are one of the smaller members of the bear family, usually weighing between 100-300 pounds with a height of 5 feet when standing upright. People usually spot bears due to their attraction to bird feeders and garbage. If you see one, make lots of noise so that the bear knows you are there and so that you don’t startle it, which could pose a very dangerous situation if the bear becomes aggressive.
The most common large wild mammals you will see on the island are deer. In fact, the only areas that lack deer entirely in Washington state are large cities. Deer are herbivores that eat a variety of shrubs and plants (not excluding your garden!). Typically, you will see deer near or in forests, meadows, and thickets. The most common time of day these mammals are active is near dawn and dusk, although they may be active at any time of day.