March 26 – Census

Wind: 0-17 from varying directions throughout the day
Air Temperature: Low 9.2ºC, High 11.8ºC
Ocean Temperature: 9.0ºC

Today was spent preparing for the shift change. Anne Stewart will arriving tomorrow to take over as the Eco-Guardian.

There was one eco tour boat seen in the reserve today.

Here are the results of today’s megafauna census:
Steller Sea Lion: 58
California Sea Lion: 31
Harbour Seal: 79
Bald Eagle: 3
Cormorant: 16
Canada Goose: 24
Gull: 256
Crow: 2
Oystercatcher: 4
Pigeon Guillemot: 234
Surfbird: 8
Black Turnstone: 16
Savannah Sparrow: 1

March 25

Wind: NE 2-21, after 17:00 SW 3-14
Air Temperature: Low 8.3°C, High 11.3°C
Ocean Temperature: 8.9°C

Today was spent doing many inside tasks: computer work, tidying, laundry, organizing photos and watching the waves while sitting by the fire.

One eco tour boat was seen in the reserve today.

Five bald eagles perch on the South Islands.

Five bald eagles perch on the South Islands.

March 24 – Sea Otter

Sunny, patches of rain the afternoon
Wind: W 4-17 knots, calm in the late evening
Air Temperature: Low 7.7°C, High 10.7°C
Ocean Temperature: 8.9°C

This afternoon, a ring-necked california sea lion was observed on the South Islands. It had something tightly wrapped around its neck, which is digging into the flesh.

While observing the sea lions, a small creature appeared on the edge of the rock ten metres away from them. Much smaller than the sea lions, at about one metre long, it was eating the molluscs in the intertidal zone. To my great excitement, it was a sea otter (enhydra lutris). The sea otter ate, dove, rolled and swam around the South Islands for about two hours.

March 23 – Ships and Sea Lions

Overcast and light rain, sun breaks in the evening
Wind: NE 3-14 knots, switching to W 5-11 in the evening
Air Temperature: Low 7.2°C, High 9.4°C
Ocean Temperature: 8.8°C

Today was filled with the usual chores of cleaning rust of things, collecting wood, stacking firewood, running the generator, creating fresh water with the desalinator, measuring the salinity and temperature of the ocean water and looking out for the species of the ecological reserve.

This afternoon, a large aircraft carrier passed within 4km of the ecological reserve. The USS John C Stennis is a nuclear powered super carrier, the largest type of aircraft carrier, measuring 333mx77m and weighing over 100,000 tonnes.

See the photos below of the ships that passed to the south of Race Rocks, close to where the sea lions swim, hunt and haul out.

Upon looking at the photo of the aircraft carrier, I noticed a sea lion in the foreground that is branded 26Y. This steller sea lion was born at Rogue Reef, Oregon in 2002.

March 22 – Rainbows and Venus

Overcast in the morning, rain and breaks of sun in the afternoon
Wind: NE 3-17, switching to SW 2-14 in the late afternoon onwards
Air Temperature: Low 7.8°C, High 10.0°C
Ocean Temperature: 8.8°C

A 2.6m high tide came overnight, sending lots of logs floating through the reserve today. A small dead octopus washed ashore near the energy building. It was noticed by the visiting Pearson students, much to the excitement of their curious marine science minds.

The visiting students returned to the college this morning.

A floatplane flew very low over Great Race this morning. One eco tour boat was seen in the reserve today.

A very bright Venus was visible this evening, soon after the sunset. It was in the west of the sky, just north of the moon.

March 21 – Scaffolding and a Turkey Vulture

Light rain and partially cloudy in the early morning; sunny for the rest of the day
Wind: W 6-27 knots
Air Temperature: Low 8.4°C, High 11.4°C
Ocean Temperature: 8.8°C

The visiting group of students toured the island and helped run the desalinator. In the afternoon they did a leadership initiative of setting up two levels of scaffolding and scrubbing the algae from the west wall of the Marine Science Centre. They did an amazing job of looking out for everyone’s safety and cleaning the walls.

A turkey vulture was seen in the early afternoon hovering by the Eco-Guardian’s house. It flew north towards Bentinck Island. They are rarely seen here at this time of year. Occasionally they pass through in the fall, on their southern migration routes.

There were two eco tour boat seen in the reserve today.

March 20 – Spring Equinox

Overcast with occasional light rain
Wind: NE 6-15 knots
Air Temperature: Low 9.2°C, High 11.2°C
Ocean Temperature: 8.8°C

The Spring Equinox brought more of the same weather. The daffodils, which have been in bloom for about a month, are beginning to die off. The canadian geese and gulls are still spending their days looking for their future nesting sites. They are getting more aggressive with each other. I don’t need an alarm clock in the morning, because the birds wake me up with the sun. The goose droppings are piling up in various deposits around the main island.

Courtney brought out a group on Second Nature from Pearson: Roman, Noemi, Roger, Catherine, Heather and Kim. They will be staying for the weekend and helping with some service projects on Saturday.

March 19 – Last Day of Winter- Census

Wind: NE 4-14 knots
Air Temperature: Low 8.8°C, High 10.3°C
Ocean Temperature: 8.8°C

The wet conditions were helpful with cleaning some exterior walls and windows. The rain water cistern was filled up from the roof. The rain also helped wash away the algae and slime on the walls, along with some scrubbing.

The low light and rain made the census difficult. In recent days, there has been a much higher number of harbour seals hauled out on the rocks. The sea lions also spent most of the day in the water. It was not possible to distinguish between the species of cormorants on Turbine or Middle Rock.

There were no boats seen in the reserve today.

Census results:
Steller Sea Lion: 59
California Sea Lion: 62
Harbour Seal: 21
Bald Eagle: 7
Cormorant: 27
Canada Goose: 24
Gull: 352
Black Oystercatcher: 4
Harlequin Duck: 9
Pigeon Guillemot: 13
Surfbird: 4
Black Turnstone: 16
Rock Sandpiper: 6
Savannah Sparrow: 1

March 18 – Divers Clean the Underwater Camera

Wind: SW 5-14 knots in the morning, NE 5-9 knots in the late morning to afternoon, calm in the evening
Air Temperature: Low 7.8°C, High 10.7°C
Ocean Temperature: 8.8°C

Nine students came this afternoon with Courtney, Laura and Nazim to dive from the jetty. The seven divers were in groups of two and three for 30 minute dives. The others provided support from above.

Bader and Sean dove together and followed the cable out to the underwater camera, which lies at a depth of 12m of water out from the end of the jetty. They cleaned the plastic dome, which had become dirty with diatoms. See the photos below.

The divers mentioned seeing lots of vivid colours and amazing species including: urchin, anemone, rockfish, greenling, rose star and bull kelp.

Up on land, there was lots of vitamin D to soak up today while doing outdoor tasks: chopping firewood, stacking firewood, sweeping and tending to compost.

There was one fishing boat seen passing through the reserve today.

March 17

Sunny, light rain in the late afternoon
Wind: 3-9 knots NE in the morning, 1-6 knots SE in the afternoon, calm at 18:00, 9-15 W in the evening
Air Temperature: Low 7.6°C, High 10.7°C
Ocean Temperature: 8.9°C

The morning was filled with chores: collecting garbage, tidying, cleaning the solar panels and mistaking a swimming seal for a sea otter (three times). The sea otter, which visited the ecological reserve during the winter hasn’t been seen within the past few weeks.

I was off the reserve for a few hours in the afternoon to drop off garbage and pick up gas, groceries, deionized water for the batteries and cleaning supplies. It happened to coincide with Elizabeth May giving a talk at the college.

The sea lions were very active and vocal leading up to the sunset at 19:21.

There were no boats seen in the reserve today.