Under way on Nuclear Power

There was a large roar made by ocean swells breaking and surging on the west and southwest sides of the island, at first light today. Winds abated and light southwest to west winds in the morning turned to light west in the afternoon rising to 15 to 20 knots by evening. The sky cleared by noon and stayed that way until dusk. The barometric pressure continued Monday’s trajectory, rising above 1022 hPa by mid-afternoon and holding there into the evening.. The marine forecast calls for light winds Wednesday and a few days of sunshine.

Four whale watching vessels were observed working in the Protected Area today. All four vessels went around to the outside (south) of South Rock to observe the seals, sea lions and eagles. One sports fisher was observed travelling through the reserve and dip-netting fish near the Rosedale Reef buoy. Forage fish, possibly herring seemed to be boiling up to the surface their drawing numerous eagles, gulls and cormorants.

An Articulated Tug and Barge (ATB), (barge, a loaded oil tanker), was noted outbound, this morning. When we checked for a vessel name on the Automated Information System (AIS), http://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:-124/centery:48/zoom:10 it did not show up on the marine traffic system neither did the tug attached to it as a pusher.

A report to the BC Ministry of Environment on the risk of oil spills in BC waters (http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/main/west-coast-spill-response-study/)states that barges are not required to use AIS however their tugs should register. The report goes on to say that a spill from an ATB could exceed 25,000m3 of oil. Fuel barge movement statistics provided by Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications Traffic Services to the 2013 BC report show over 1000 fuel barges outbound from Victoria, Vancouver, Comox and Prince Rupert and another 514 transiting Victoria alone. Why are they not required to register? There have been several near-miss incidents with these oil carriers; why not use every means possible to maximize safety and reduce risk, such as AIS?

To put things in context, a show of force was led by the USS Shoup heading out to sea, followed an hour later by a very large submarine escorted by a convoy bristling with military might and expense. The usual explosions from Rocky Point put the ar in arsenal.

Ecologically, the gulls are becoming more abundant and settled in their nesting spots. Territorial disputes are a daily occurrence now as are the calmer moments of pairs just standing together gazing at and grooming each other. The Harlequin Ducks have been busy with all the whitewater activity and take their rest on the boulder beach just southeast of the main house. Pigeon Guillemots were back for a morning visit to Great Race.

Sea lions and Harbour Seals had really good daytime sleeps today recovering from the storms.

Temporary repairs were completed on damaged roofs, as was clean-up and mopping up from the storm.

Humpback and Orca Sightings from Race Rocks in the Strait of Juan de Fuca

In preparing for the oral presentation that the Friends of Ecological Reserves  will give on January 28 in Burnaby, as an intervenor for the National Energy board Hearings, I have recently updated or graphs on Humpback and Orca sightings by the Ecoguardians at Race Rocks: The posts done by our Ecoguardians tagged for orcas or  humpback whales assisted in this tabulation.

image003 orcadays

Concern for the 19 Marine Ecological Reserves which could be affected by the KM/TMX pipeline.

The  Board of Friends of Ecological Reserves,  submitted their final report as Intervenors in the National Energy Board Hearings on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

The report deals with what they see as a flawed process in the NEB and with the concern  for proper funding from the oil company and ecological monitoring to be provided in Marine Ecological Reserves before any approval of the project can be allowed. It deals with the 19 Ecological Reserves in the Southern part of Vancouver Island, and Juan de Fuca and Georgia Straits. Since Race Rocks Ecological reserve lies within a few kilometres of the proposed tanker route,  it is used extensively for examples in this report. Our thanks to the Race Rocks Ecoguardians of the past few years who have, through their observations and photos provided a valuable resource from which we have drawn data and images.  —Garry Fletcher.






Misleading information in recent STANTEC report on Whales.

Also see the APRIL 23 post with graphs on Whale Observations from Race Rocks 2009-2014.
I believe that the increasing frequency in recent years in the number of humpback whales observed in the area which will be affected by increased tanker traffic from the Kinder Morgan/ TMX project has not been taken into account In the Consultant’s report issued today
Quantitative Assessment of Increased Potential for Marine Mammal-Vessel Interactions from the Trans Mountain Expansion Project TRANS MOUNTAIN PIPELINE ULC TRANS MOUNTAIN EXPANSION PROJECT -Prepared by: Stantec Consulting Ltd. 500 – 4730 Kingsway Burnaby, BC, V5H 0C6 Ph.: (604) 436-3014, 

Quoted from the report :
“While the BC CSN data includes numerous opportunistic sightings of humpback whales in the study area over the course of the last four decades, the majority of the Marine RSA is generally not recognized as a humpback whale hotspot, although the western extent just overlaps with the eastern-most extent of humpback whale critical habitat –(Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2013a). As such, and since actual humpback whale density values for the Marine RSA (Regional Study Area) do not exist, this species was assigned a density according to the lowest density observed for humpback whales during the surveys reported on in Best and Halpin (2011) elsewhere in BC ((Williams and Thomas 2007) did not observe any humpback whales during their summer 2004 survey in this area) This value corresponds to roughly 10 whales distributed across the majority of the Marine RSA

——As a result, humpback whales were assigned a proportion of time in the study area of 0.17 (i.e., two months of the year) based on the largest concentration of sightings from the BC CSN data (British Columbia Cetacean Sightings Network 2013)”

Here is a good example, in my opinion,  of how a decision having long term implications regarding the welfare of a species recovering from near extinction may be completely misdirected if based only on a consultants interpretation of officially published scientific resources which can quickly become dated.


2009-2014 Whale Observations from Race Rocks

Lester Pearson College has employed the Ecoguardians at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve since 1997. One of the benefits of this is in having observers on site 24 hours on this archipelago in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. A great amount of citizen science is achieved as they record in their logs the events such as whale sightings of the area.

In the past year I have been working as an intervenor for the Board of Friends of Ecological Reserves to try to question and advise  the National Energy Board and the Kinder Morgan Corporation on the problems of increasing the traffic of oil tankers from the Westridge terminal through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The area of potential impact from chronic and catastrophic oil spills puts at risk the ecological integrity of  up to 17 of our Marine Ecological Reserves around southern Vancouver Island. In our submission I was able to draw upon the records from the Race Rocks Ecoguardian’s logs to demonstrate the increase in the incidence of whales in this area. A recent report of the Department of Fisheries (Sufficiency Review of the Information on Effects  of Underwater Noise and  the Potential for Ship Strikes from Marine Shipping on Marine Mammals  in the Facilities Application for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project )has criticized the Environmental assessment done by Trans Mountain as being ineffective to take account of the increasing potential of Impact on the large whales such as humpbacks and the underwater noise which will masking of the ability of whales to communicate and get food.

I put together the following graphs to show the increase in the number of days per month that whales were observed from Race Rocks:


Thanks to Ryan, Raisa, Adam, Alex, Virginie, Julie, Courtney, Nick, and Anne for contributing to this database.

Addendum :  see the April 27 post on the report issued today ” Quantitative Assessment of Increased Potential for Marine Mammal-Vessel Interactions from the Trans Mountain Expansion Project TRANS MOUNTAIN PIPELINE ULC TRANS MOUNTAIN EXPANSION PROJECT –Prepared by: Stantec Consulting Ltd. 500 – 4730 Kingsway Burnaby, BC, V5H 0C6 Ph.: (604) 436-3014,

Garry Fletcher, Race Rocks Ecological Reserve Warden.


New DFO Report highly critical of Kinder Morgan /TMX environmental assessment on Whales

The recentlly released DFO report:
(See Full PDF) SUFFICIENCY REVIEW OF THE INFORMATION ON EFFECTS OF UNDERWATER NOISE AND THE POTENTIAL FOR SHIP STRIKES FROM MARINE SHIPPING ON MARINE MAMMALS IN THE FACILITIES APPLICATION FOR THE TRANS MOUNTAIN EXPANSION PROJECT was very critical of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project Application documents. The Conclusion of the report is concerned with Vessel strikes on Whales and the overall impact of noise from increased Project-related traffic.  Included below are the conclusions of the report.


There are deficiencies in both the assessment of potential effects resulting from ships strikes and exposure to underwater noise in the Trans Mountain Expansion Project Application documents.

There is insufficient information and analysis provided with which to assess ship strike risk in the Marine RSA from either existing or Project-related traffic. Ship strike is a threat of conservation concern, particularly for baleen whales such as Fin Whales, Humpback Whales and other baleen whales (Gregr et al. 2006). If shipping intensity increases as projected in Section 4.4 in the Marine RSA and the Strait of Georgia and Juan de Fuca Strait as a whole, the significance of this threat to cetacean populations that occupy the region will increase.

Incidence of recovered whale carcasses is not considered to be an adequate measure of the frequency of ship strikes. No information is provided about the speed and maneuverability of Project-related ships or the distribution of whales in relation to the shipping lanes. Analyses that consider the statistical probability of ship-whale encounters and the risk of collisions are considered appropriate methodologies to assess this potential effect.

The JASCO MONM model, as it has been applied by the Proponent, is not adequate to assess the overall impact of noise from increased Project-related traffic. Although state-of-the-art acoustic modelling has been used to model the noise propagation associated with a single Project-related tanker in the Marine RSA, only four locations were chosen to represent the Marine RSA; therefore, the assessment does not adequately represent the noise exposure for the entire time a marine mammal would be in the RSA. The assessment represents only Project-related tanker traffic and not the current noise environment or the potential increase due to Project-related traffic. Finally, the method used to assess the significance of impacts from the modelled noise level contours resulting from a single Project-related tanker and tug on indicator cetacean and pinniped species is qualitative and the lack of an appropriate assessment framework reduces DFO’s ability to evaluate the assessment.


See other posts on Oil Spill Risk for the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve

Overcast with Calm Seas

The barometer continued to drop slowly from 1023 to 1018 hPa.  The wind continued to blow between 8 and 18 knots from the northeast.  There was a difference in the weather today, compared to the clear sunny skies that have been the usual for the past week.  Low clouds hung over the Juan de Fuca Strait for most of the day.  There were occasional breaks of sun in the late morning and early afternoon.  The whitecaps this morning calmed right down in the afternoon, making the sea the calmest it’s been for the past few weeks.

There was one recreational boat seen this morning in the southern part of the reserve.

Pam Birley, from the UK, sent two photos of sea lions that she captured on Camera 1, located at the top of the lighthouse.  Pam’s photos show two branded sea lions that have never been spotted at Race Rocks, as far as I can tell.  See the photos below.  Thanks Pam!

The desalinator was run today to top up the fresh water cistern.  The solar panels aren’t soaking up as much energy, due to the clouds.  The generator was run longer today to help out the energy intensive desalinator.

Material Safety Data Sheet for Dilbit or Diluted Bitumin

If you click on the category “Oil Spill Risk” you may  have some appreciation for the potential hazards we face at Race Rocks in the event of a Oil Spill involving Dilbit which is already being shipped in some tankers through the Strait of Juan de Fuca within 4 miles of the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve, but if the Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion project is approved by the Canadian Government will be the contents of up to 35 tankers per month.

From the National Energy Board we can find out what is in Dilbit and what precautions we need when it lands on the shores of Race Rocks.
You can see the original here: or as copied in the images below:


ALSO: The following link gives the Occupational and Health Guidelines for Benzene, a Potential Human Carcinogen


dilbit1 dilbit2 dilbit3 dilbit4

Esquimalt First Nation Traditional land (and water) use areas.

In August, 2014, the Trans Mountain Pipeline consultant Tera submitted a “Supplemental Traditional Marine Resource Transportation Technical Report. 

In it, a chart is presented with areas of traditional use by the Esquimalt First Nations is presented. This is the first time this kind of map has appeared, and it is rather interesting since the Esquimalt FN remained uninvolved throughout the Race Rocks MPA Advisory Board meetings .


“EXECUTIVE SUMMARY An Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment was completed by TERA, a CH2M HILL Company,and was submitted as part of the Application to the National Energy Board (NEB) in December 2013 for the proposed Trans Mountain Expansion Project (referred to as TMEP or the Project). The NEB will conduct a detailed review and hold a Public Hearing to determine if it is in the public interest to recommend a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for construction and operation of the Project. Pending regulatory approval, Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC (Trans Mountain) plans to begin construction in 2016 and go into service in 2017.Trans Mountain will continue to engage Aboriginal communities through all phases of the Project. Traditional Marine Resource Use (TMRU) information received from participating communities will be reviewed in order to confirm literature results and mitigation measures. Additional issues of concern, TMRU sites or features identified through ongoing engagement with Aboriginal communities will be considered for incorporation into Project planning under the guidance of existing marine transport regulations and mitigation recommendations. The results of these ongoing engagement efforts will be provided to the NEBin future supplemental filings. Further information is provided in Technical Report (TR) 8B-5 in Volume 8B,  Traditional Marine Resource Use Technical Report of the Application. ”

This report contained a map of the traditional use areas of Esquimalt First Nations which shows use of the  Race Rocks Area as well as the adjacent coastline. It is shown in this link:

esquimalttraditionallanduse area

Click for large version