Pearson Students Have a Whale of a Time

Weather and Sea Conditions Winds: Winds were variable swinging all the way around the compass starting with east-southeast at 10 -15 knots in the early morning. It backed through northeast and northwest then to light west southwest by early afternoon. By late afternoon it had passed through southeast again still turning counterclockwise to northeast. Sky: Heavy overcast with showers in the morning then partially clearing. Afternoon sunny. Visibility: Mostly good 15 nm, except in fog. Barometer: 101.4 kPa rising Friday afternoon Forecast: Winds westerly 10 to 20 late this afternoon then diminishing to light after midnight. Periods of rain ending this evening.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve Whale watching vessels: Fourteen were observed working in Ecological Reserve (ER). One of the whale watchers sped into the ER while there were Killer Whales in Middle Channel. Contact was made by VHF radio and they left slowly without responding on the VHF. Later three whale watching vessels were “herding” the killer whales around and inside Rosedale. By rushing ahead of the whales and placing themselves in their path and by “squeezing” the whales in towards the shore of the ER, two of the vessels put themselves into positions where they were observed backing in reverse into the wind and waves and away from the killer whales. After this, we noted that one adult male killer whale was breaching very close to the two zodiacs. Two much larger whale watching vessels were observed using a similar tactic with a Humpback Whale mid afternoon. No other commercial operators, noted in ER today. Sport fishing vessels: Two noted in ER today travelling reasonably slowly through Middle Channel.

Ecology: Six to seven Killer Whales graced Race Rocks Ecological Reserve with their presence today. The group was made up of one large male, one slightly smaller male with a nick on his dorsal fin about a third of the way up, one small and one very small individual and two or three females, one with a nick on her dorsal fin. Photos are out with a query to confirm their identification. These animals swam over directly from Church Point late morning and came in and out of the ER at least three times. They were also observed going into the entrance of Pedder Bay and through Eemdyk Passage behind Bentink Island.  Two Humpback Whales, one large and one small were observed feeding about one mile south of the ER and one Humpback was “chased” into the ER by whale watching boats. Five young Northern Elephant Seals came ashore and spent the afternoon sleeping over by the energy building. Two adult Bald Eagles were seen in the ER today, causing the gulls to flock off with every pass. A high abundance of Moon Jellies was observed in the plankton over the last few days and sea surface temperature has dropped to ~10oC with fairly high (for here) salinity of 32.2 ppt.

Sustainability: Sustainability is not just about washing the windows with an eco-friendly product, it also means engaging young people with the natural environment and in particular with the ocean. The ocean has been called the blue elephant in the classroom, as it is a very large presence on our blue planet that is not included well in curriculum. Pearson College is making a difference to ocean literacy with their Marine Science programming and today new marine scientists were inspired to care for the ocean for future generations.

Visitors: Laura Verhegge and two Marine Science classes came on learning field trips to Race Rocks today. Kyle transported everyone aboard Second Nature including distinguished guest, Felix Butschek. Felix is on a yearlong tour around the world as a Rolex Scholar with the Our World – Underwater Scholarship Society in Europe. Felix is a Pearson College alumnus who studied Marine Science with Laura, was active in the Pearson diving program and is now a promising young marine scientist with a serious passion for remote polar seas. It was nice to welcome Felix back to Race Rocks and see him inspiring the first year students during their fun biodiversity explorations and observations. The second class enjoyed observing Killer Whales swim right in front of us as we stood on the rock watching.

Maintenance and Operations: Regular chores. Both fences repaired. Windows washed in Eco-guardian house.

 

Pearson College Rocks.

Weather and Sea Conditions

Winds: Up to 30 knots, west-northwest

Sky: Clear with patches of heavy fog in the morning.

Visibility: Mostly good 15 nm, except in fog.

Barometer: 101.5 falling Wednesday evening

Forecast: Wind dropping tonight and then switching and increasing to east 10 to 20 late overnight and to west 20 to 30 knots Friday afternoon. Rain overnight and Friday morning. Chance of showers Friday evening. Strong wind warning in effect.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Whale watching vessels: Two were observed working in Ecological Reserve (ER) both moving carefully in the fog. No other commercial operators, noted in ER today.

Sport fishing vessels: Two noted in Reserve today: one observed fishing in ER and the other sped through ER not slowing even through Middle Channel where there were hundreds of animals in the water.

Ecology  The islands within the ER are receiving enormous amounts of biogenic material daily from resting pinnipeds and birds. Although the guano accumulated in the summer drought has been partially washed away by recent rains, nitrogen loading is significant in this biological hot-spot along with accumulation of sea lion hair and gull feathers from the moulting animals. There are also daily additions to the hard remnants from predation events, which include shell, bone, teeth, scales and exoskeletons. Vegetation in the sea lion haul-out areas has been removed by trampling now and levels of faeces and urine are very ‘high’.

The waters around the ER continue to support feeding Humpback Whales daily and large multi-species feeding flocks. Three Humpback Whales were observed today on the west and south sides in and adjacent to ER. Most of the big flocks close to the islands are multiple species of gulls, dominated by Glaucous-winged Gulls.

Thayer’s Gulls arrived late today and a large flock was observed preening and resting on the southwest side of the island at sunset. These Thayer’s gulls have flown in to winter on the Pacific coast, from Canada’s high arctic where they nest.

A single male Killer Whale was observed during the early evening feeding in the mouth of Pedder Bay near the Navy Buoy.

Sustainability   Inverter frames re-screwed.

Visitors   A first year biology class from Pearson College visited today with their teacher Emily and conducted inter-tidal population studies in tidal pools. Two Pearson College volunteers also came along. Kyle transported everyone in two trips on Second Nature.

Maintenance and Operations  Both fences repaired. Discussed temporary roof patches (March) on storm damaged roofs, (boat shed, tank shed and derrick house) with Kyle. Noted foghorn not operating consistently during fog events.

 

Weather’s Fine

Weather and Sea Conditions

Winds: 5 – 15 knots, west-southwest

Sky: Clear

Visibility: Good 15 nm

Barometer: 101.5 falling Wednesday evening

Forecast: Wind increasing to westerly 5 to 15 near noon Thursday and to westerly 15 to 25 Thursday afternoon. Strong wind warning in effect.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Whale watching vessels: Fifteen observed working in Ecological Reserve (ER)

No other commercial operators, noted in Reserve today.

Sport fishing vessels: Five noted in Reserve today. None observed fishing in ER. One sport boat speeding through ER. One open run-about with a windshield was seen chasing a Humpback Whale and hopscotching with it in order to position itself in front of whale’s path.

Animal Census

Steller Sea Lion 429

California Sea Lion 402

Harbour Seal 133

Northern Elephant Seal 6 (3 of those on Great Race)

Sea Otter 1 (seen during week)

River Otter 0, (no evidence seen either)

Bigg’s (Transient) Killer Whale 6 (just outside ER)

Dall’s Porpoise 3 (seen during week just outside ER)

Harbour Porpoise 2 (seen during week just outside ER)

Humpback Whale 1 (3 during count week adjacent to ER)

Canada Goose 24

Cackling Goose 1

Harlequin Duck 0

Double-crested Cormorant 4

Pelagic Cormorant 11

Brandt’s Cormorant 39

Bald Eagle1 (seen during week)

Black Oystercatcher 22

Black Turnstone 17

Surfbirds 9

Ruddy Turnstone 1 (seen during week)

Sanderling 2

Western Sandpiper 5

Kildeer 3

Glaucous-winged Gull 1274

California Gull 83

Herring Gull 1

Heerman’s Gull 5

Gull spp. 328

Savannah Sparrow 23

Sustainability

Made fresh water using solar power to energize de-salinator.

Visitors None

Maintenance and Operations

Weather station back on-line after three months off. Fence maintenance, good for a few hours ; – )

 

Race Rocks Welcomes Pearson College Biology Students.

 

Weather and Sea Conditions

Winds: 5 – 15 knots, variable (North-northeast to South-southwest)

Sky: Partially overcast, sunny afternoon

Visibility: Good 15 nm

Barometer: 101.8 kPa  rising Tuesday evening

Forecast: Wind light becoming westerly 5 to 15 knots Wednesday afternoon. Mainly sunny. UV Index 4 predicted.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Whale watching vessels: Six observed working in Ecological Reserve.

No other commercial operators, noted in Reserve today.

Sport fishing vessels: Eight noted in Reserve today. Two sped through Ecological Reserve (ER) north of Rosedale. One person in vessel in, or very close to edge of ER observed fishing.

Second Nature: Ferrying biology students to and from Pearson College.

Ecology

Two very large Humpback Whales observed feeding and travelling on north and west side of ER. Dall’s Porpoise feeding and travelling just outside of ER to north and into Pedder Bay.

Three Northern Elephant Seals at the Jetty.

First Heerman’s Gull of the shift observed.

Sustainability

Compost care.

Visitors

Emily and first year biology students. Comparative tidal pool population studies linked to mapped pegs.

Maintenance and Operations

Regular chores completed

Safety tape put up around failing concrete stairs at Science house before students arrived

.

Received much appreciated fresh apples and onions from Luke via Kyle. Thank you both!

 

 

Brand X

 

Weather and Sea Conditions

Winds: 5 – 15 knots, variable (North-northeast to South-southwest)

Sky: Partially overcast, scattered showers

Visibility: good, 10 to 15 nm

Barometer: 101.8 kPa rising Monday evening

Forecast: a few showers changing to chance of showers tonight and Tuesday morning.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Whale watching vessels: 12 observed working in Ecological Reserve

No other other commercial operators or sport fishing vessels, noted in Reserve today.

Ecology

First Bald Eagle, this shift noted today on West Rocks

California Gulls feeding on surface in Middle Channel

Large mixed species flocks feeding in Race Passage and near North Rock

Sea lion brands (see photos)

Sustainability

Downspout on energy building reinstalled (had been removed) with two 90 degree bends to facilitate bucket filling.

Visitors

None

Maintenance and Operations

Regular chores completed

Back of Eco-barrel shed scrubbed.

Shimmed energy-building ladder at upper attachment points to remove play.

Hasp fallen off – replaced loose screws on freshwater storage building door hasp with bolts.

Hinges ripped on one side of freshwater storage shed door. Plugged screw holes with wooden dowels and re-screwed.

Noted large bag of garbage in Science house basement and stack of used plumbing and old carpet from tank shed next to boat shed, to be removed.

 

 

Strange Cloud

 

Weather and Sea Conditions

Westerlies 10 – 20 knots

Partly overcast

Visibility good

Sea condition – calm

Showers distant, strange clouds

Forecast light winds and showers

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Whale watching vessels observed working in Ecological Reserve – 20

Other commercial operators – none observed

Sports fishing boats observed in reserve 7 (none fishing in Reserve)

RCM-SAR RHI crossed ER at high speed

One Whale Watcher sped in ER (19 out of 20 okay)

Ecology (see photos)

Sea lion photo-documentation of brands and tags

Resting Shorebirds

Late fledging GwGu chicks

Six Bigg’s Killer Whales feeding in kelp beds off Rocky Point, travelling slowly westward late in afternoon (Reported to Cetacean Sightings, no photos)

Sustainability

Rainwater used for scrubbing

Composting toilet maintenance

Visitors

None

Maintenance and Operations

Chainsaw chain filed (badly rocked but still more than half a chain left after extensive filing)

Axe wire brushed rust, filed the bevel, waxed (anti-rust treatment) (see photos)

Other regular, daily chores

 

 

Blog On.

This blog covers three days, September 15, 16 and 17th; Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It will be replaced by a point form log for the rest of the stay.

Weather and Sea Conditions

Thursday was part of the last high pressure system with sunny afternoon westerlies of 10 – 15 knots. Friday was a transition day with heavy fog burning off by early afternoon and accompanied by westerlies of up to 25 knots. By dusk it had clouded over and showers continued overnight and into Saturday morning. This wet weather came with winds from the north. Morning fog patches continued Saturday and by early afternoon the wind switched from 10 – 15 knots north, to 25 -30 knots west partially cleared with sun between showers. The marine forecast for Central Juan de Fuca Strait includes a strong westerly wind warning. The wind is predicted to drop to westerly 10 to 15 early Sunday morning and showers are expected to end near midnight Saturday.

It appears that the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve weather station has not been operating since mid-June, so longer-term context is not possible other than anecdotal information recorded in recent logs.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Commercial whale-watching activity inside the Ecological Reserve boundaries is busy, with 20 commercial visits noted on the 16th and 14 visits on the 17th. The guidelines for vessel activity are not being observed by all operators and some of the commercial vessels are as close as 5 meters from the sea lions (and shore). Some very large vessels are going through shallow passages, making erratic turns in the current, travelling against the current and several vessels were seen speeding (> 7 knots within 400 m of Great Race). No other commercial activity was observed. Although several recreational vessels were seen passing through, there was no sports-fishing activity noted within the closed area.

Ecology

Seasonal shifts are apparent with the return of some ‘winter’ species and visits by fall migrants. There are only seven Glaucous-winged Gull chicks left on Great Race Island that are not fully fledged. The smallest, chick has a badly injured left leg. One other still has pinfeathers on its head and the rest are close to flying. There are notably fewer gull chick remains on the island this year perhaps indicating a lower mortality rate. There does not appear to be any data on the number of nests or their productivity this year so it may just reflect lower productivity. The logged death of the old River Otter may be related to the drop in chick carcass numbers.

Glaucous-winged Gulls are still the dominant gull species here on Great Race. California Gulls are abundant in the area but not roosting on Great Race yet. There are large (>1,000 birds), mixed species, feeding flocks adjacent to the Ecological Reserve in Race Passage and in the distance. California Gulls have been seen resting on thick mats of Bull Kelp in Middle Channel.

Black Turnstones and Surfbirds have returned from the Arctic where they nest in the summer. One Ruddy Turnstone was noted today feeding on flies, fuel for a migration that may extend as far south as South America. A single Sanderling was noted both Friday and Saturday and this is another species that nests in the Arctic and is widespread in the ‘winter’. Black Oystercatchers, which are much more site fidel, are roosting near the energy building in the evenings. At least one Kildeer was heard each evening just after dark.

Both Stellers (Northern) and California Sea Lions are moulting this time of year and are hauling out on Great Race, South Seal and South Islands as well as Middle Rocks and Turbine Rock. Photos were taken and processed, of branded, tagged and entangled sea lions.

Northern Elephant Seals are hauling on both Middle and Great Race and a total of six were noted Saturday. No big males. Harbour Seals are abundant and using these haul-out areas; West, Middle, Turbine, North and South Seal Rocks and South Islands.

A single Sea Otter was observed in the kelp just south of North Rocks Saturday morning.

One Humpback Whale was noted feeding near the Ecological Reserve.

Sustainability

Solar panels are maintaining power for the island in spite of intermittent cloud and showers. Without the weather station operational, sunlight levels are not being measured. The diesel generator is run for a couple of hours each evening to top up the batteries for the night.

Visitors

Kyle brought three visitors yesterday, two from Ocean Networks Canada and one from Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, for a site visit.

Maintenance and Operations

Regular chores included the 06:15 daily weather report for Pedder Bay Marina, daily solar panel maintenance, walkway cleaning, repairing and electrifying fences. The outside of the fuel barrel (eco-four) house was scrubbed, tops of fuel barrels stored outside were drained of water, and windows in the energy building were washed. The “science” house was inspected, an open window closed in the basement, exterior electrical box was noted broken from wall and conduit open at bottom (photo). Science house furnace was full on and the upstairs temperature was 22.0o C. Thermostat turned down. It was noted that diesel had been spilled in basement. Spill pads on the fuel drum are saturated and there was diesel on the entry bootscrubber/doormat. Looked at derrick dock woodpile and noted creosoted and pressure treated wood in woodpile, probably a health hazard to burn. Inspected chainsaw chain…just needs filing. Took VHF, charger and manual to top of tower to replace the one missing from there. Wheelbarrows were deployed for rainwater catchment. The conductivity meter’s line was marked with yellow electrical tape so that seawater sampling could be done at measured depth. In the energy building an attempt was made to align the indicator lights on the three Xantrax controllers with the holes. Two out of three can now be seen and the middle one can be seen plainly with the lights out. The flashing rate of these lights indicate the controller’s stage of operation and approximate battery voltage which is helpful to knowing how long to run the generator. Weather station troubleshooting will continue tomorrow.

 

End of season for our team! welcome to Anne

Weather

Those last days have been pretty nice with a light wind and a very good visibility around our lighthouse. one exception for Tuesday where the wind picked up to 30 knots in the evening.

Ecological

if it is the end of the season for the Seagull the rocks now belong to the Sea lions .They even change in a few weeks the color of the rocks . They were white by the birds they are now dark brown!

Other

DND Activity : Some very strong and frightening blasts almost everyday since the last WE

 

 

Indian Summer?

Weather 

Fall to stay…I said that a few days ago so it may be an earlier indian Summer! The sea this end of week was flat like never before with no wind . An exception for Saturday which was beautiful with a gust to 30 knots at the end of the afternoon. for Friday a summary:Wind 6 knots at 7:00AM,Visibility beyond 20 miles,South wind,Temperature: 10 deg.celsius, Barometric pressure:102.7KPA clear to cloudy and foggy for a while from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM .For Saturday: 15 knots in the morning ,West wind,calm ,Visibility :30 miles Pressure:102.7KPA, Wind was expected :30 knots in the afternoon and we got it from 7:00 to 8:00PM with a gust at 34 knots.Sunday a mirror the whole day and sunny and clear.

Ecological 

The sea lions are everywhere on the rocks and now we can see more and more beautiful and some huge Steelers.We even saw an entangled Californian : 1rst one this year : very sad!.Geese are back between 5 and 13 depending and some Pelagic Cormorants too. Gulls with young ones are almost all gone .

Census 

Sea Lions:550 to 600(with the swimming ones)

Gulls : 420

Oystercatchers:2

Geese: 13 seen

Eagles :0

Pigeon-guillemots: 0

Elephant-Seals:2 seen this week on Main

Black Turnstones: 40

River Otters:1(seen this week)

Pelagic Cormorants :20( seen this week)

Eagles:0

 

Maintenance

Guy and Kyle finished installing the Seawater pump . Some hoses were still missing and now it works well and easy.

We had an interesting experience coming back with the water bucket for the daily sample. When we went we had to make jump around 40 sea lions on the jetty .They all went but on our way back ,a pretty big one managed to come back and didn’t want to go or move and was aggressive . So we had to wait for a few minutes and finally we throw the bucket and the water and at that point he went! So now we have found the trick : A broom  If you have a broom they are afraid so we take a broom with us,even when we go ashore for when we come back .

Other

Usual plane and watching boats …many fishing vessels closed to the entrance of Pedder Bay and Sooke

 

Fall definitely here to stay

Weather

For this beginning of the month we have mainly calm days but the temperature of water and air dropped and the sky is cloudy grey with rain almost everyday.We already can see the effect of this soft water on main Rock: flowers,greener moss and rocks not so white.Fall is here to stay. Foggy night on the 6th: fog horn honked + sea lions shouting= Noisy place !dsc_0179dsc_0157

Ecological

With this cooler days we saw some species coming back:Around 20 pelagic cormorants on Turbine Rock and 2 on main.and 2 Elephant Seals has spent some time on Main (one older female and one juvenile). It is a challenge and a lot of fun at the same time to do the water sampling : so many sea lions on the jetty!. We saw a river otter 2 days ago and 11 geese yesterdaydsc_0022dsc_0061dsc_0162dsc_0038

 

Maintenance

A new sea water pump has been installed in the derrick house by Kyle and Guy with 4 new hoses and a 5th one is needed to reach the guesthouse.Kyle brought back the empty gazoil barrels and brought them back full.The desalinator has been working the 2 last days and the tank is now full.. End of the month report done and sent .

DND

A few blasts yesterday and Today and a few ones pretty strong.

Other

1 plane yesterday and Today above and one helicopter(coast guards)