New hashtag for #racerocks

I have just started a twitter hashtag for our the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve  #racerocks  You are welcome to use this in your twitter feed to provide links to significant new news-worthy events concerning the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve.

There is also a new one for British Columbia Ecological Reserves: #ecoreserves


Elephant Seal Birth Videos –The delivery

Above, the mother elephant seal is having contractions. The pups nose and head start to become visible at the end of the clip.

The pup is born, steaming in the sun and the mother starts calling to it.

See Elephant Seal Birth part 1- start and end of birth
See Elephant Seal Birth part 2
See Elephant Seal Birth part 3 wide angle
See Elephant Seal Birth part 4


Short-term Eco-guardian Position

Race Rocks needs an Eco-guardian for 3 weeks–( December 2015)

Responsibilities include ecological observations, monitoring of marine activity and maintenance of equipment on the island. If you are interested, and for a complete position description, please call Pearson College and ask for Chris Blondeau.

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Nine divers rescued after boat capsizes near Race Rocks, TC Nov 17, 2015

Also see Ecoguardians report at


Richard Watts / Times Colonist
November 15, 2015 11:18 PM

Rescue in progress off Race Rocks Sunday afternoon.   Photograph By Don Macisaac/Pearson College, Race Rocks

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UPDATED: Two volunteer rescue crews, one from Victoria and the other from Sooke, improvised a tag-team-style effort to pluck nine stricken scuba divers off a bouncing, capsized boat Sunday afternoon.

Jason van der Valk, coxswain of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue craft based in Sooke, said his crew started the rescue by throwing a line to the boat capsized near Race Rocks, and pulling first one, then two divers to safety from the water.

The Sooke boat then moved aside while its crew checked out the medical condition of the two rescued divers. Meanwhile, the Victoria boat moved in and repeated the heaving-line rescue for one more diver. Then, it was the Sooke boat’s turn again.

The strategy was repeated until all nine recreational divers had been pulled to safety. They were taken to Pedder Bay Marina, where ambulances and helicopters were waiting. None suffered anything worse than mild hypothermia and seasickness.

Van der Valk said the dual-team rescue had never been rehearsed or tried before. But after countless hours of drills and hard training, rescue crews learn to put together best procedures on the spur of the moment.

“That’s the first time,” he said in a telephone interview. “But just knowing how everybody is going to operate it just went like clockwork.”

All nine rescued divers are members of a recreational diving club called the Aquarius Dive Club, based at CFB Esquimalt. Eight were wearing cold-water drysuits. One person, the boat driver, was without a dive suit.

Sara Helmeczi, acting spokeswoman for CFB Esquimalt, said the Aquarius Club is for service men and women and associated members from the public. It is not a military body.

Helmeczi said when the divers arrived at Race Rocks on Sunday, they decided it was too rough and tried to head elsewhere, but were swamped by waves.

She said four of the nine divers rescued on Sunday are military personnel, so the Canadian Armed Forces will conduct a safety investigation into the incident.

Van der Valk said the first call came in about 2 p.m. on Sunday, saying there were five people in a capsized boat near Race Rocks.

“We didn’t know much detail at first,” said van der Valk. “But they never like to delay, so it was just ‘Go! Go! Go!’ ”

He said Race Rocks, near the eastern entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, is midway between Sooke and Victoria stations, so both responded in their Zodiac-style jet boats, Sooke with a crew of six and Victoria with five.

Van der Valk said the waves were four to six feet high at Race Rocks. When rescuers arrived at the scene, they could see four people in the water clinging to the boat and five sitting on top of the overturned hull. He estimated they had been in the water for 45 minutes to an hour.

“The waves were breaking over the boat and quite frankly I’m amazed they were able to hang on,” said van der Valk. “I’m surprised one of them hadn’t let go or fallen off and drifted away.

“Given the state of the sea, there is no way they could have swum back to the boat.”

Waiting nearby was a whale-watching boat, the Spring Tide, which had temporarily set its passengers on Race Rocks and stood by to help, if needed. A recreational fishing boat was also standing by.

But van der Valk said the two rescue craft have a special low ramp at the stern, making it easy to pull tired people from the water. As jet boats, they also have no propellors to cut feet treading water.

Don Macisaac, eco-guardian of Race Rocks, said his fellow guardian and fiancée, Nina Yousefpour, noticed the dive boat, which was initially upright, while doing chores. The two live full time on Race Rocks.

A short while later, the two saw the overturned boat with people waving, attempting to attract attention.

Macisaac said Yousefpour helped co-ordinate some of the emergency radio communication, including to fire officials assisting with ambulances at Pedder Bay. Meanwhile, Macisaac helped the Spring Tide unload its passengers and push back off.

Race Rocks, an ecological reserve managed by Pearson College, is normally off limits to the public.

Macisaac said the ocean temperature is about 9.7 C. “If they hadn’t been wearing wetsuits they would have been in a lot of trouble.”

This is the second emergency at Race Rocks in the last few months.

On July 5, Timothy Chu, a 27-year-old British police officer, became separated from his dive master and drowned. His body was recovered on Aug. 27.

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Other media covering the event appeared at:

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9 divers rescued after boat capsized

The boat was sighted overturned, approximately 300 meters south of the main island. 9 divers were clinging onto their boat for over an hour. Victoria Coast Guard responded promptly as did a tour boat in the area (Springtide). Eventually the 9 were reached to safety, with one in hypothermic state.

See TC Article: Nine DIvers rescued after boat capsizes near Race Rocks

Ecological Happenings

Rough sea conditions and winds up to 31 kts. Swells of up to 8ft @ Jordan River

Marine Vessels

One tour boat (Springtide) and one dive boat. Eventually the tour boat was involved in the rescue of the dive boat and its 9 divers.


9 passengers from the tour boat Springtide were offloaded at RR docks, to make room for Springtide’s rescue attempt. The passengers were on the island for approximately 1 hour before returning to the boat.

Fishers and Hunters : Stewards of the Environment?

We received a copy of this article from a Sooke newspaper in July. It never ceases to amaze me how some people can be so out of touch about conservation and species and ecosystems at risk. It seems that some think that as long as “humans have it all ” then it doesn’t matter about others with whom we share the resources of this planet.


Click to enlarge

Two missing divers found- Times Colonist June 6, 2015

Two divers have been found safe after their failure to surface sparked an extensive rescue operation on Saturday.

The divers — one experienced and one inexperienced — went into the water about 11:10 a.m. and were expected to surface near Race Rocks at noon.

At 12:30 p.m., the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre alerted search-and-rescue crews from Sooke and Victoria, a Royal Canadian Air Force Cormorant, the Canadian Coast Guard and West Shore RCMP to the incident.

Hoping the divers had drifted, the Sooke crew searched an area 0.5 nautical miles west of Race Rocks, according to a post on the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue – Station 37 Sooke’s Facebook page.

“One of our spotters who was using binoculars noticed something black and shiny at the surface of the water south-east of our position. We navigated the vessel towards the area and realized that we were spotting some harbour porpoises,” the post said.

While awaiting direction from the Coast Guard regarding which area to search next, the team once again spotted something in the distance.

“This time, it was a much larger object in the water. We quickly navigated to that area and located the two missing divers who were very happy to see us.”

The crew gave them a quick medical check and notified the rescue centre, the post said.

“Tired and relieved, they both appeared to be fine. … The other divers and their vessel met us on-scene and we passed the two individuals over to them.”

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Video: Elephant seal pup born on Vancouver island is an online star : Global TV

(Global TV  toured the waters of Race Rocks and did an Interview with the Ecological Reserve Warden Garry Fletcher on January15: Click on the image to see the VIdeo .

Global TV

An elephant seal pup is getting used to the watchful eye of the Internet.

Its every move is being broadcast by a webcam to people watching around the world.

It was born in the early morning hours of January 14 at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve in the Strait of Juan de Fuca just off the southern tip of Vancouver island.

The reserve says this is the fifth pup born to a female called Bertha since January 2009.

Race Rocks is the only place in Canada where elephant seals breed and while other baby seals have been born on the reserve’s other islands, they’ve been washed out to sea by the waves.

Elephant seals were hunted to near-extinction in the 19th century, but are now protected under the Fisheries Act.