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 guests 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
Debbi joined the San Juan Excursion family in 1998. 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. Debbi loves to be out on the water and enjoys sharing her enthusiasm of the Salish Sea and its natural beauty. Debbi loves live theatre, travel, and trivia! Debbi brings her Marine Biology and Education background to offer interesting and informative tours on the Odyssey.
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 started working for San Juan Excursions in 2010 and is a certified marine naturalist/orca identification expert. She also works at the Center for Whale Research and has interned at Cascadia Research Collective and the Whale Museum. She has lived on San Juan Island her entire life and in 2017, she graduated Evergreen State College with a Bachelor of Science in marine biology and ornithology. Melisa is ready to answer any questions you might have about the Salish Sea and its amazing wildlife.
Jerusha has been with San Juan Excursions since 2005, when she started coming out on the boat to work as the Snack Bar Barista at age twelve. Orcas have always been one of her favorite animals, and it was a dream come true when she moved to the island and began working on the boat to see them. She quickly moved up the ranks once she became a certified Marine Naturalist through the Whale Museum at age fourteen, and began working as a full time naturalist at age sixteen. Returning home for summers in-between college and graduate school, Jerusha continues to invest and grow in her passion for orcas, whales, and the ocean. She is currently in graduate school at Princeton Theological Seminary, pursuing a Dual Degree MDiv and MACEF, and holds a BA in Sociology from Whitworth University, with minors in Environmental Studies and Youth Ministry. "What I love about my job is sharing my passion with people. It's just so cool to see people understand these animals and this ecosystem in a whole new light, with a new depth of knowledge. You can't care about something until you know about it first. I love inviting people into the experience of getting to know this area that is so important to me."
Brittany fell in love with orcas at the tender age of three 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 member of the Salish Sea Association of Marine Naturalists and has volunteered for Soundwatch in the past which is an on the water boater education program designed to protect endangered Southern Resident Orcas who call the Salish Sea home. Brittany has also been a naturalist in Hawaii, and Baja where she studied humpback whales and gray whales. During the winter months, Brittany works at the local animal shelter on the island, and travels back to her home state of Colorado. “The wildlife of the Salish Sea is so inspiring; I really just can’t get enough of them. The orcas have really taught me the importance of ecosystem health and have made me appreciate all the amazing creatures that live here in the San Juans. 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.”
Jill has always been a naturalist and artist since her earliest days on a family farm in Northern California, studying, drawing and painting the natural world around her. College took her to Parson’s School of Design in New York City, and graduate school in San Francisco. At Portland State University, Jill taught courses on design systems, research, theory, and consumer psychology, before arriving in the Salish Sea islands five years ago to reconnect with nature. While caretaking on one of our off-grid islands, Jill commuted to Friday Harbor to become a certified naturalist. She now spends most summer days on San Juan island and aboard the Odyssey. “I love being out on the water and talking with folks about our local ecosystems and the different ways that we can all live harmoniously within it.” Her notecards, prints and stickers can be found in our waterside shop and at the Saturday Farmers Market during the summer. In winter months, you’ll still find Jill on one of our more remote islands, immersed in research and artwork alongside local plants, animals, biologists and other “nature nerds.”