San Juan Excursions staff members are residents of San Juan Island and are happy to assist you with your island planning from giving advice on where to stay, to suggesting the best places in town to eat at and ferry information. More tips and travel advice can be found on our blog.
Our captains & naturalists are among the best in the business. Not only are they experts about the wildlife and natural history of the San Juan Islands, but they are entertaining and fun. They get excited every time they see wildlife ( checkout our photo gallery ). This enthusiasm is one of the main ingredients that keeps people coming back year after year to San Juan Excursions for whale watching/wildlife tours.
Captain Pete is the owner and operator of San Juan Excursions. He was born and raised in Washington and has worked on boats since the young age of 14 when he began working on his father’s fishing boat during the summer months in Alaska. After he graduated from college, Pete began working as a kayak guide running multi-day tours from San Juan Island. His love of the Salish Sea combined with his love of being on the water prompted him to obtain his captains license. “I have always loved being on boats and working on the water and I make it my goal to provide our guests with a safe, informative and fun tour each day.” - Pete. Pete and his wife, Erin, enjoy working with our guest and are happy to assist you with any questions or needs you may have.
“Having grown up on San Juan Island, I have always appreciated the beauty and wildlife of this area and feel extremely fortunate to be able to live and work here.” Erin loves her job working on the boat as a Naturalist and is a member of Salish Sea Association of Marine Naturalist (S.S.A.M.N), but her main passion is working in the office and working directly with the public. She took the Marine Naturalist course many years ago and spent 5 years working as an Office Manager for a local Eco-Tour company. She enjoys helping guests plan their day trips to Friday Harbor or week-long vacation to the San Juan Islands and Washington State. She believes it is important that people feel comfortable, knowledgeable and excited about what they are spending their time and money on. “Not only do I want our guest to learn about our local wildlife, eco-systems and extremely important waterways, but I want them to feel secure in their choices made and know they have picked not only a wonderful location to vacation but a responsible company to go whale watch and wildlife viewing with.” – Erin
This will be Debbi’s 13th season with San Juan Excursions. “I moved here in 1997 to be around and work with the whales. I’ve always had a passion for whales and other wildlife, so I feel fortunate to get to share the beauty and awe of these animals and be in such a gorgeous setting as the San Juan Islands.” Debbi attended the University Of Miami graduating with a degree in Marine Biology and continued in Education for her Masters Degree. She interned at the Miami Seaquarium, where she worked with “Lolita” an Orca from our local L Pod, Southern Resident Orcas. She would like to see her [Lolita] brought home one day. Debbi spent time working on cruise ships as the Shore Excursions Manager and this is where she met her husband Brad. They have two young boys and enjoy raising them on San Juan Island.
This is the third season we will have Tim back onboard the Odyssey. Although Tim has worked around and seen whales in the Pacific, and Atlantic oceans there is something about the Puget Sound Orca that brings Tim back year after year. Tim has been living and working on San Juan Island for more than ten summers. In the winter months he splits his time between south Florida and costal Mexico. This is the third whale watch boat Tim has crewed on as a naturalist in the San Juan Islands. Tim has had the help of friends involved in the center for whale researches orca survey, and now can identify most southern community residents with a quick glimpse of a saddle patch. On Tim’s days off from our boat he works part time as a kayak guide on San Juan’s west side where kayak-whale close encounters are frequent. We at San Juan Excursions are glad he is with us this season, and believe Tim’s smile and attitude will help make your trip more enjoyable. “I feel lucky to be a part of this exciting team and historic vessel, to show our guests the wonders surrounding the wonderful San Juan Islands, like I said makes me feel lucky”
Melisa has lived on the San Juan Island her entire life and has always been interested in the wildlife that resides here. Then, a few years ago she fell in love with the orcas. Since then she have become a certified marine naturalist and soaked up every little bit of information she can about them, including how to recognize each individual in our population. Melisa is ready to answer any questions you might have along the journey or help you out with the munchies at the snack bar. She is in her junior year of high school at Spring Street International school and is excited for another season aboard the ODYSSEY.
Karl is a certified marine naturalist, professional land surveyor, and nationally registered Emergency Medical Technician. Karl has been a resident of San Juan Island since 2002 and took the marine naturalist training course in 2006. This will be his second season aboard the Odyssey. Karl earned his degree in Environmental Studies at Cornell College and worked as a research assistant at the Marine Laboratory at the University of Guam. He is a member of the Salish Sea Association of Marine Naturalists and is a volunteer with the marine mammal stranding network. “I guess I’ve always tried to be a “big picture” sort of guy. It’s fascinating to see the interconnections between the people, the land and the sea and to watch how it all fits together. It’s quite a privilege to be able to share the wonder and the excitement.”
This will be her eighth season working with San Juan Excursions, which she says has been one of the most rewarding things she has done in her life so far. Jerusha began working on the ODYSSEY when she was twelve years old as the snack bar barista and was the first young person to take the Whale Museum's "Marine Naturalist Training Course". She began working as a Certified Marine Naturalist two years ago. "Orcas were always one of my favorite animals, but growing up in New Hampshire, I never thought I would get to see them." She loves learning and sharing her knowledge and passions with other people. Jerusha is a studying Sociology and Biology at Whitworth University.
Bristol likes to call herself a “lifer”… a born and raised Friday Harborian! She remembers the whales as a part of every summer season: “It is pretty amazing to know that kind of nature for your entire life.” A double major in German and Theatre from Pacific Lutheran University, a life in eco-tourism was not what she had originally expected for herself; all that changed in January 2008, when a class in environmental literature took her to a place that exceeds most descriptive efforts: the Antarctic Peninsula. Standing on the deck of a Russian research vessel, watching orca whales accustomed to even more frigid waters than the Salish Sea, she reminded herself of just how lucky her hometown had always been, and how glorious it is to see these creatures in their natural habitat. In our San Juan Excursions main office, Bristol is happy to book your reservation so you and your family can experience this too. From which restaurant to eat at for dinner to navigating our sometimes tricky ferry schedule, she is ready to help make your San Juan Island experience exactly the way you want it. “You have to have fun in my hometown,” she says, “That is the most important part of my job.”
Brittany fell in love with orcas at the tender age of four and has been striving to learn more about them and protect them ever since. She studied Marine Biology at Oregon State University and became a certified Marine Naturalist in 2011. She is also a board member of the Salish Sea Association of Marine Naturalists and has volunteered for Soundwatch, an on the water boater education program designed to protect marine species. During the winter months, Brittany works as the assistant education curator at The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor and travels to her home state of Colorado. “The animals that live here are so inspiring; I really just can’t get enough of them. The orcas have really taught me the importance of an ecosystem and how to love all the other wonderful wildlife we see in the San Juans every day. The best thing about my job is sharing information with guests and knowing that together we can make a positive impact on these amazing animals’ future.”