Weather and Sea Conditions

Light northwest winds backed and veered bringing waves of silver and leaden clouds. Showers were visible from far away, travelling with the wind and tied across the Strait with rainbows, tops of arcs obscured in cloud. In spite of being overcast and chilly, the high was 11o C, there were brief periods of intense sunshine and the UV index was very close to 4 (moderate). Accumulated solar energy was low, about half of what we have been receiving. Just before dusk there was an intense downpour accompanied by winds over the 30 knots. It was short-lived but may foretell of what the forecaster are calling for by late morning. The barometer remained fairly steady today at ~1015 hPa but is expected to drop with the passage of a low that will bring southeast winds and showers tomorrow. Sea conditions were rough at times out in the Strait today but generally there was just a light chop inshore.

Vessel Observations

No vessels were observed in the protected area today.

Ecological and General Observations

An influx of 14 more Canada Geese kept the established geese busy on their own wild goose chase today. There were many running and aerial chases and clashes. These seem to be new animals with different behaviours than the ones who have been so doggedly determined to nest here for the last six weeks.

Many flocks of 100 to 200 Brant were observed moving through the reserve from west to east and I wonder if these are still flocks that have travelled up the coastal flyway from California and Mexico.

Harlequin Ducks are rafting up in strings of birds and moving around more than they have since I arrived nearly six weeks ago. They are usually so site-fidel that you can almost predict where they will be.

Black Turnstones continue to be the most common shorebirds on Great Race. Seeing them forage everywhere on island is a good reminder that this is essentially an inter-tidal island. Their plumage is looking new and shiny, ready for their big northern migration.

The late spring elephant seal moult is definitely in full swing now and the animals are catching up on sleep and using stored blubber to see them through the moult. Sea Lions continue to haul out on South Rocks every morning. The male Californians are also well established on Great Race in the two haul-outs near the two houses.

Work was routine today and there were no human




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

Ships Currently in the Area of Race Rocks, and the Associated Hazards

Shipping in the Strait of Juan de Fuca poses the greatest risk to the ecological integrity of the Race Rocks Ecological reserve. The risk of chronic oil spills increases directly with the Number of vessels in the waters. Chronic oil is a greater risk to marine life around the world than are the disastrous large spills, but the risk from both will increase if tanker traffic is allowed to proliferate in the Strait of Juan de Fuca:

These tagged posts detail the risk to this and other Marine Ecological reserves on southern Vancouver Island: http://www.racerocks.ca/tag/oil-spill/

frontierLeadertankerOn this page we profile Marine Vessel Traffic Images which show how close they are to the Animals of Race Rocks



The live tracking image below shows the ships, their size and other details that are in the Strait around Race Rocks right now.

Either go to this site and create a username and password to access:

or use the more restricted map below:

View Larger Map

Problems with Marine Vessels and their risk for Race Rocks:

It has always been a concern that Race Rocks is located in a very vulnerable location in the Entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. There is a need for regulations preventing the dumping of bilge and sewage from ships, and an emergency plan in the event of disaster from marine shipping.Shipping  Prshipwreckoblems:
The history of shipping in the past in the area is grim evidence that accidents happen. A fuel or chemical spill in the Strait of Juan de Fuca would have an untold impact on the biodiversity of the Ecological reserve.shipwreckMajor Marine Vessel Casualty Risk and Response Preparedness in British Columbia
Prepared for Living Oceans Society
Sointula/Vancouver, BC Canada
by EnviroEmerg Consulting Services Cowichan Bay, BC Canada
Government of Canada Announces Ballast regulations, June 2006
Cruise Ship Problems:
Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 9.35.14 PM
See the following reference link on potential problems from Cruise ships and how they can be rated for environmental safety with the Cruise Ship Environmental report card.Cruise Ship Dump Raises Alarm
Louise Dickson, Times Colonist
Thursday, May 08, 2003
The accidental dumping of raw sewage into Juan de Fuca Strait has renewed calls for stronger environmental regulations governing cruise ships.Norwegian Cruise Lines has confirmed that its ship, Norwegian Sun, dumped about 62,000 litres of raw sewage into American waters near Port Townsend, southeast of Victoria.
Victoria’s Cruise Ship Industry: Economic Benefits and their Environmental ImpactsBy: Elliot Houlston and Carly Daoust , 2005″Being that a cruise ship functions like a small city, it will pollute like a small city as well. In one week’s time a single cruise ships empties 210,000 gallons of sewage (human waste), 1,000,000 gallons of grey water (water from sinks, bathing and washing), 8 tons of solid waste (paper, plastic, cardboard, food waste) and 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water8. Some hazardous wastes such as photo chemicals and used paint are produced also. These are only the water pollutants created by cruise ships. There are many air pollutants as well.”Dirty Waters: Cashing in on Ocean Pollution 18 January 2010 in DC BureauBy David Rosenfeld
Return to Index of Environmental Disturbances to the ecosystem at Race Rocks

Ship Traffic in the Strait of Juan de Fuca

If you go to the website for tracking  marine vessels  (http://vtslite.siitech.com/VTSLite/AView.aspx ) you can see the vessels currently in the waters around Race Rocks. Today I checked and at one time noted the four vessels indicated on the chart below.

mapandships Today the wind is blowing from the north-east  at 5o Km ph.
I took a picture from Camera1 of the tanker Pacific Endeavor just south of Race Rocks :

figure-3-overall-risks-oil- spills

With the projected increase in traffic of tankers in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the risk of an oil spill doubles.See this recent government report on Risk Analysis. 

B.C. coast, St. Lawrence estuary most at risk for major marine oil spill: report

Adapted from the Times Colonist at his link: http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/b-c-coast-st-lawrence-estuary-most-at-risk-for-major-marine-oil-spill-report-1.806714

The Canadian Press January 29, 2014 01:24 PM   OTTAWA — A government-commissioned risk analysis says the coast of southern British Columbia and the Gulf of St. Lawrence are the Canadian areas most vulnerable marine oil spills and among the most likely for a major spill to occur. The findings will add to the debate over several pipeline proposals — including two in B.C. that the report says will substantially increase marine risks. The 256-page study, delivered this month to Transport Canada, looks at the risks associated with marine oil spills south of the 60th parallel under current shipping volumes.


The southern tip of Vancouver Island — including Race Rocks — is among sites considered vulnerable to oil spills. Photograph by: Dan Kukat

It identifies the southern tip of Vancouver Island, the Cabot Strait off Newfoundland, the eastern coast of Cape Breton Island and the Gulf of St. Lawrence as the most probable areas for a major oil spill. But the study also assesses the potential impact of four proposed pipeline projects, including the Northern Gateway Pipeline to Kitimat and Kinder Morgan’s plan to almost triple its Trans Mountain line into Vancouver. The report says the Kinder Morgan proposal would essentially double oil traffic in an already vulnerable marine environment — with a corresponding increase in spill frequency — while the Northern Gateway marine route would turn what are currently very low, near-shore risks into very high risks. The study found that reversing Enbridge’s Line 9 to carry Western Canadian crude to refineries in Montreal and Quebec City would actually lower marine spill risks, as it would reduce oil imports through the sensitive Gulf of St. Lawrence. And the study found that the proposed Energy East Pipeline to St. John, N.B., would likely be a wash, reducing shipping imports but increasing oil exports to leave the overall marine risk about where it is now. © Copyright Times Colonist

Also see:


The Traditional Power Generation System at Race Rocks

Being an isolated Light Station, Race Rocks relied fully on power generated on site up to October of 2006. Electricity was supplied after the start of the light tower in 1860 by a series of diesel run electrical generators.So far we have no information on the kind of generators used in these early years. This page provides a profile of the diesel electrical generating system which now forms part of a back-up for our integrated energy system.
A 360 degree VR with an inside view of the generator room in 2001.
The Engine Room and Oil storage Tanks
The delivery of a new generator, November, 2000.This generator had a lower output rating, but would be less expensive to run since there were no longer two families living on the island since automation.
Old engine room location.The original engine room (ca 1860) concrete pad with the newer Solar panel, batteries and the foghorn which the Coastguard had installed to allow automation to take place.
restoration of race RocksThis file describes the site remediation and restoration project for the old diesel oil tank farm which was removed in 2000
Enviro Impact Environmental Impact of the existing Diesel Oil Energy System. oil drumThe hoses for transporting diesel oil to the island are wound on a central drum on the island. These reach from the dock where fuel is brought by boat, over to the oil storage tanks at the engine room.
Diesel fuel storage tankAlex Chan beside the diesel fuel storage tank. 2005 Link to the CARBON CYCLE