Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge Project


I spent an incredible day at Simpson Reef, a part of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge this week.  I expect that the next three months will be my most fruitful as far as gathering wildlife images for my 2017 coastal photography endeavor.  If you’re not aware of my photography project to showcase the beauty and ecology of the Oregon Coast please check out my blog post titled,  

Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.

~ Jane Goodall
wildlife at Simpson Reef, Oregon National Wildlife Refuge

Portrait of the charming Harlequin sea duck, Simpson Reef, Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

It was exhilarating to spend a day with the stunning Harlequin Ducks and the raucous, heavy weight California Sea Lions. These coastal eared seals weigh up to about 700 pounds and their high pitched  bark reverberates with a rumble over the waves and up the cliffs letting all know that they are present! And of course, the Harlequin ducks would give the Wood ducks a run for their money in any waterfowl  beauty pageant.  These sea ducks have a system of densely packed feathers that trap a bunch of air within them.  This provides insulation against cold sea water for their tiny bodies. It also makes them very buoyant which is why they bounce around like corks after diving for food! 

California Sea Lions soaking up some rays at Simpson Reef, Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

It is an amazing experience to sit on the intertidal rocks just yards away from the wildlife and bask in their presence.  I marveled at the awesomeness of this area teeming with wildlife. I felt safe, yet cautious, as I tiptoed my  way through the slippery, seaweed covered rocks.  It was the first sunny day in a long while and I didn’t want to disturb the much needed sun bath that the sea lions were savoring. In fact, it was clear that wildlife and humans alike were all enjoying a reprieve from the rain and dark skies that have been the norm this winter. Lots of folks were out with their family and pets soaking up the warmth and grandeur of the refuge.

Wildlife at Simpson Reef, Oregon National Wildlife Refuge

Harlequin duck flapping his wings as part of his preening ritual. Simpson Reef, Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

The first week of this month I went to visit my older son, Dan, and his family in Portland.  I was chatting with him about my coastal photography project and the meaning that it holds for me.  I mentioned that a big motivator behind my effort to photograph with purpose is the concept that I may in some small part inspire my granddaughters to love and care for our earth and its wildness.  Fortunately, my son and daughter- in -law have raised their girls to be curious about the wild so they are easily influenced in this direction! 

Sea duck at Simpson Reef, Oregon National Wildlife Refuge

Harlequin duck catching a splash, Simpson Reef, Oregon National Wildlife Refuge.

You aren’t going to save the world on your own. But you might inspire a generation of kids to save it for all of us. You would be amazed at what inspired children can do.


If you’d like to learn more about this area of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge or even look into volunteer opportunities check out SEA (Shoreline Education for Awareness).  

Also, check out my husband, Steve’s blog post on this area for more awesome images. 

Thanks for reading and if you liked this post a share is always appreciated! 

Here’s to Adoring and Exploring the Wild! or…Wild, Adoring and Exploring!

Hmm, I think I just came up with the knew title for my project!  I’ve been thinking hard on it.  🙂










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