Hood Canal Wildlife

Kayak Brinnon specializes in educational wildlife viewing tours, however you’ll also see plenty of wildlife by renting kayaks and exploring on your own.  All the wildlife species discussed here can be seen from your kayak while paddling in the immediate area. Most photos included on this page were taken during our tours.

Harbor Seals

Hood Canal Wildlife

Harbor seal at Dosewallips Estuary.

The Dosewallips and Duckabush estuaries are home to large colonies of harbor seals. When visiting these areas you’ll find seals hunting in the water, hauled out on the beach, nursing pups, or curiously popping their heads out of the water to keep an eye on you.  Harbor seals are a protected species and while visiting these areas you must abide by the Marine Mammal Protection Act which dictates that you stay 100 yards away. This is especially important because females and pups are abundant in the summer.  They may be nursing their pups or may have left pups temporarily alone while they hunt for food. Before you paddle to these areas we will review the rules of the Marine Mammal Protection Act with you and go over some wildlife viewing guidelines to minimize your impact on them.

 Roosevelt Elk


Roosevelt Elk at Dosewallips State Park

Roosevelt Elk are a common site in Brinnon.  This photo was taken at the Dosewallips State Park, however we have also spotted them from our kayaks on the banks of the Dosewallips Estuary and lower Duckabush River.  Elk can be dangerous so please take care to view them from a distance.

 American Bald Eagles

American Bald Eagle at the Dosewallips Estuary.

American Bald Eagle at the Dosewallips Estuary.

This photo of an American Bald Eagle was taken while on our Dosewallips Tour and is a common site in the Dosewallips River and estuary.  They do not seem to be leery of kayakers so you can often view them up close.  On several occasions they have snatched fish from the water right in front of our kayaks!

Turkey Vultures

Hood Canal Wildlife

Turkey Vultures at the Dosewallips Estuary.

These giant birds are abundant in the Dosewallips Estuary while salmon are spawning.

Pacific Oysters

Water visibility is so great in our river estuaries that you can see the oysters below your kayak!

Oysters, oysters everywhere!  This photo was taken at the Dosewallips Estuary where the water is so clear it seems like you’re flying over the beach! The Hood Canal produces world famous oysters which can be found on almost every beach in the area.  Locals and visitors alike enjoy harvesting oysters year round and there are a number of oyster stores and companies that make up a major industry in the area. The Dosewallips and Duckabush tide flats are the most popular areas to find oysters.  If you chose to harvest shellfish from our local beaches, you can purchase your shellfish harvesting license and oyster shuckers from the Brinnon General Store. If you chose to take our Duckabush Tour or Pulali Point Tour our Marine Biologist Guide will show you how to shuck oysters during our lunch stop.

River Otters

Spotting River Otters is always a special treat. We came across of these otters hunting small fish while on a Pulali Point Tour.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron at Duckabush Estuary.

Great Blue Heron at Duckabush Estuary.

Standing up to 4 feet tall with a wingspan of over 6 feet, these flying dinosaurs are impressive. Great Blue Herons are a common site while paddling the shorelines of the Hood Canal.  This heron was just trying to stay warm on a frigid winter day at the Duckabush Estuary.

Marine Invertebrates

Sunflower star on the rocky shore of Puali Point.

Sunflower star on the rocky shore of Pulali Point.

Some common marine invertebrates you may see by kayak include, but are not limited, to Sunflower Stars (photo), Purple Ochre sea stars, Kelp crab, chiton, shore crabs, nudibranchs, mussels, and jelly fish.