A woman driving by a beach on a small island off the coast of British Columbia noticed an odd beachgoer: a blonde raccoon with her brood. Marian Stewart and her companion were out on the water when they came upon the strange raccoon on Saysutshun Newcastle Island.
The little island is a public park located a few hundred meters off the coast of Vancouver Island and a 10-minute boat journey from Nanaimo (which is located on Vancouver Island).
A unusual colony of blonde raccoons lives on the island. The animals are not albinos, but rather a hereditary genetic feature of the Saysutshun raccoon population.
Stewart published her pictures to Protection Island: Post Anything You Want Facebook Group. She wrote, “Mom Albino with 3 babies normal color.”
One of the members, who lives on Protection Island, mentioned how secretive the raccoons are. “Wow, although often observed a few years ago, I have not heard of a sighting in a long time,” Ken Lund said.
Stewart replied, “Nor I. In 1985 when I 1st moved to Protection there was a huge female blind in 1 eye. I’ve only seen 3 since then.”
Protection Island is another tiny island close to Nanaimo.
The raccoons went to the ocean shore to forage for food.
The Snuneymuxw people have a folklore about how the raccoons of Saysutshun turned white. According to a traditional account on Saysutshun’s official website, a cormorant, otter, and raccoon planned to steal a coho salmon from an eagle at an animal potlatch, when all the animals would congregate for a year-end feast. The would-be robbers, however, were apprehended by the eagle, who decided to teach the selfish creatures a lesson.
“As each one got into trouble, Raccoon became increasingly scared of what would happen to him because he had plotted the entire thing and…become so afraid he went white,” the narrative continues.
Raccoons are not the only white wild animals seen near Vancouver Island’s coastal settlements. White ravens have been observed on Vancouver Island in recent decades. More information may be found in our story, “Photographer Discovers Legendary White Ravens in West Coast Forest.”