General News · 19th April 2009
Cortes Island Museum
The Cortes Island Museum's first cruise of the 2009 season heads to Mitlenatch Marine Park on Saturday, May 9th.
Stellar and California sea lions stay briefly on Mitlenatch Island in their spring migrations. See these massive and noisy animals, along with seals, nesting eagles, spring wildflowers, prickly pear cactus and thousands of nesting seabirds that use this mid-gulf sanctuary for the same reason that Mike Manson once transported his sheep and cattle there (by ROWBOAT!) -- no predators.
As you leisurely cruise, skipper and naturalist Mike Moore of the "Misty Isles" will provide fascinating details and history about Mitlenatch, sea lions, nesting birds and spring flowers. "The young male Stellar and California sea lions congregate on the island at this time of year," says Mike, "because they're not welcome on the breeding grounds." Moore will slowly cruise around the island to view the sea lions and seals and to look at the impressive pelagic cormorant rookeries and an eagle nest. Pigeon guillemots, harlequin ducks, oyster catchers and many other marine birds should be in full view. On a shore trail walk you'll see vibrant spring wild flowers in bloom, prickly pear cactus in rocky crevices and nesting gulls everywhere.
Mike Manson owned the island in the late 1800's and rowed sheep and calves out there after wolves decimated his flocks and herd on Cortes Island. (Did you wonder how he got a full grown cow off the island? Of course, he had to first butcher it!) Many early homestead families on both Cortes and Quadra Islands used Mitlenatch for group picnics that lasted all day long.
In 1961 Mitlenatch Island was designated as a provincial park to protect the thousands of wildfowl that nest there. The park, which is the largest bird sanctuary in the Strait of Georgia, is favoured for nesting because it's protected by distance from predators. Another attraction is the dry, warm climate. Mitlenatch lies within a "rain shadow" with rain-bearing clouds dropping more than half their moisture on Vancouver Island. As a result, Mitlenatch has an annual rainfall of only 75 cm (30 inches), compared to 153 cm (61 inches) in Campbell River. In the resulting warm environment prickly pear cactus grow on rocky outcrops.
"Misty Isles" will depart from Cortes Bay at 10:30 am and return at 5 pm. Cost per person is $105 (GST incl.) A free shuttle service will run from the Cortes ferry in Whaletown to Cortes Bay and return. Quadra residents should walk on the 9:05 am Cortes ferry at Heriot Bay. From Campbell River, participants need to catch the 8:30 ferry to Quadra (ask for walk on ticket for Cortes ferry), park near the Heriot Bay ferry dock and walk on the 9:05 Cortes ferry.
Dress for the weather and wind, wear boat appropriate shoes (second pair might be handy) and bring a lunch. Tea and cookies provided on board "Misty Isles".
Register early by phoning Lynne Jordan 250-935-6472 or leaving a message at the Cortes Museum 250-935-6340.
The 2009 season's "Misty Isles" trips with the Cortes Museum include: Laughing Oyster Solstice Fathers' Day Dinner Cruise (June 21), Toba Inlet Waterfalls overnight (June 27-28), 'Round Maurelle Island (July 10), Kayaking from Manson's Lagoon (July 17) and Desolation Sound (Aug. 29). All cruising is done at a leisurely pace with natural, social and First Nations histories of the area brought to life.