Balaenoptera acutorostrata: Minke Whale–The Race Rocks Taxonomy

Minke whales are being seen more frequently in recent years off Race Rocks .  See the posts on Minke whales sighted from the Ecological Reserve.
(We are still waiting for a picture of whales in the Ecological Reserve.)

For reporting Minke whales, go to  the Northeast Pacific minke whale project.

The BC Cetacean Sightings Network has a good description and images:

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Subclass: Eutheria
Order: Cetacea
Suborder: Mysticeti
Family: Balaenopteridae
Genus: Balaenoptera
Species: B. acutorostrata

 

Other Members of the Class Mammalia at Race Rocks.

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy
and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams.

 

Lagenorhynchus obliquidens: Pacific White-sided Dolphin–The Race Rocks taxonomy

10614312_10152440678352194_8515761111297904797_nThis image is from the website of the 5 Star Whale-watching Company.

We have seen these dolphins in the waters off Race Rocks, but have yet to get a picture of them on location in the Ecological reserve.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Subclass: Eutheria
Order: Cetacea
Suborder: Odontoceti
Family: Delphinidae
Genus: Lagenorhynchus
Species: L. obliquidens

Other Members of the Class Mammalia at Race Rock

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams. Garry Fletcher, 2014

 

Sea Otter, Enhydra lutris— Race Rocks Taxonomy

abjune102012rrseaotter

Adam Bird, aboard a whale watching charter took this photo of a sea otter on June 10, 2012 at Race Rocks .

This is the first image taken of this species at Race Rocks .

This sea otter was observed over several days in the kelp bed off the Middle Rocks in Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. Sea otters were introduced to the Bunsby Islands, Checlesset Bay north of Kyuquot village on the West Coast of Vancouver Island in 1969, 1970 and 1972. Considerable research on them has been done over the years especially by Dr. Jane Watson, and it is archived on the Friends of Ecological Reserves website in the Checlesset Bay Ecological Reserve #109 archives:

I also observed a sea otter and was able to get some pictures in 2014

Domain Eukarya
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Subphylum Vertebrata
Class Mammalia
Order Carnivora
Family Mustelidae
Subfamily Lutrinae
Genus Enhydra
Species lutris ( Linnaeus,(1758)
Common Name: Sea Otter
This tag will bring up other examples of observations of this species at Race Rocks

Other Members of the Class Mammalia at Race Rock

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams. Garry Fletcher, 2012

 

Eumetopias jubatus , The Northern Sealion : The Race Rocks taxonomy

Male, female and pup at Race Rocks .Sept 27,2011. Photo by Ryan Murphy

Male, female and pup at Race Rocks .Sept 27,2011. Photo by Ryan Murphy

Irmsept27mafeedpupn the fall of 2011, a female northern sea lion (Steller) and her pup appeared at Race Rocks. This is the first such pair that we have seen there. Link to Ryan Muphy’s Flickr site for a set of pictures of the sealions at Race Rocks. rmsept27maandpup2Ryan captured some excellent pictures but noted that due to blasting by the DND on the neighbouring Bentinck Island, the pup was injured and the mother disappeared. See below.. Commentary here is by Ryan Murphy : “Steller or Northern sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) are the largest sea lion species in the world and are listed under Canada’s SARA (Species at Risk Act) as Special Concern.” rmsept27maandpup4“The Race Rocks archipelago south of Vancouver Island has long been a haul out for Steller sea lions, and we know from Lightkeeper Kurt Cehak’s accounts from the 60s that these marine mammals came to Race Rocks even when locals were encouraged to kill them to collect bounties. “ rmsept27maandpapup“Today, Steller sea lions are a year-round attraction for a multi-million dollar ecotour industry based in the Capital Region District of Victoria, BC. With the arrival of this pup and its mother to Race Rocks, the Ecological Reserve now protects the reproductive ecology of this threatened species.” rmsept27pup“However, this pup is at risk because of activities of the Canadian Department of National Defence. The island in the background is Bentinck Island and it is used by the Canadian military to dispose of ordinances and explosives training. Their rapid succession blasting during the last two days has caused rmsept27pup2repeated stampedes of sea lions and this pup may be crushed tomorrow.”     See the logs on this website posted by the ecoguardians which include mammal census and observations of sealions.           Northern Sea lion VIDEOS:

lionblasts dndblasts eye-1
EFFECTS OF DND BLASTING at Bentinck Island Sea lion disruption on middle island by DND blasting
Video Clips of Sea lions by Cam Wilson In October of 1998, Cam Wilson of Victoria made an Hi-8 video of Northern and California sea lions while diving off West Race Rocks. Clips are included here.
radiolion flasher2northern-1 RMdetail_20090823s
Tracking devices on sea lions This Northern Sea Lion was photographed with fishing equipment swallowed in September 2003..also see other photos of flashers and boat collisions. This link shows the conflict of motor boats and marine mammals in the reserve.

Posts on Entanglement of Sea lions in fishing gear

Domain Eukarya
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Sub Phylum Vertebrata
Class Mammalia
Order Carnivora
Family Otariidae
Genus Eumetopias (Gill, 1866)
Species jubatus (Schreber,1776)
Common Name Northern or Steller Sea Lion
climb

This sequence was taken in August 2008 by Pam Birley from the remote camera 5.

 

entangled2-1 rmmar09acipenser-1 tumor
Entanglement of a sealion on Middle rocks and video of release by Vancouver aquarium and DFO personnel White sturgeon images This is a link to the white sturgeon file where images taken by Ryan Murphy show predation by a Northern Sea lion on a white sturgeon at Race Rocks. In early November 2007, Mike Slater took this picture of a Northern Sea lion with a large tumor like growth on the side of its face. The animal was not sighted again at Race Rocks, however on August 22, 2009 it was photographed at Mittlenatch Island.
sealiontower brand632may706s uwsealion
Northern Sea lions peak in numbers in the fall. Branded Sea lions at Race Rocks :  Sea lions underwater, photo by PC Diver Natan.

This is the largest of the Otariidae or ‘eared seals’ family.

Habitat: Northern Sea Lions are found on North-Pacific coasts; in Russia, Alaska, Japan, Canada and the USA in particular. They spend most of their time on rocky shores and in coastal water. During bad weather they stay under water. At Race Rocks , the peak in numbers of these mammals is in October to January , upwards of 400 may be reported at Race Rocks. They mix freely with the Californian Sea Lion which may number well over 1000 individuals between October and February.

See the references on Sea Lions in our RREO Index

Description: The Sea Lions at Race Rocks are mainly bachelor bulls or juvenile yearlings. Since this is not a breeding colony, mature females do not usually come here. There are clear differences between males and females. The males are larger in size and weigh more. Whereas the average sea lion male weighs 566 kg (1,245 pounds) the average female weights only 263 kg (579 pounds). Moreover, the average male has a body length of 288 cm (10 2/3 feet) while the average female has a body length of 228 cm (8 2/3 feet). Most females are yellowish or creamed color and most males are dark.
The average life span of a Steller sea lion is about 20 years for males and old females can even reach 30 years. The breeding season is between May-June and each mating produces a single pup.p10graphSteller sea lions are marine carnivores. They feed on wild fish (salmon, herring, rockfish, flounder, and Pollock) as well as on invertebrates such as squid and octopus. The Steller sea lions feed at night, usually about 15-20 km. from shore. This relatively selective diet is one of the causes of the sea lions’ decreasing numbers since they compete with humans for this food.

An Eastern Alaskan population is now on the endangered species list due to severe declines in numbers over the past decade. They are now a threatened species included in the ‘Red List’ and protected in the USA and by the Commonwealth Independent States ( CIS).

Although they dive and spent s lot of time under water, Northern Sea Lions are also known for their ‘sunbaths’ and are often watched catching sunlight on the rocky shores. Male Northern Sea Lions are generally aggressive and territorial.

References cited Dec. 2001.
http://www.wc.adfg.state.ak.us/index.cfm?adfg=wildlife_news.view_article&issue_id=40&articles_id=229

See also:

The stellar sea lion: Two distinct stocks, Thomas Louglin, NMML

Other Members of the Class Mammalia at Race Rocks.

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy
and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams.
Dec 2001-Nufar.

 

Phocoena phocoena: Harbour Porpoise–The Race Rocks Taxonomy

harbourdistrib

 

This map of distribution of the harbour porpoise is taken from the paper by Robin Baird. 1994. Status of Porpoises in the British Columbia/Washington Trans-Boundary Area: A Canadian Perspective

 

 

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Suborder: Odontoceti
Family: Phocoenidae
Genus: Phocoena
Species: P. phocoena
PugetSoundNotes1994

Originally accessed Dec 2014 at: http://www.cascadiaresearch.org/robin/PugetSoundNotes1994.pdf

Other Members of the Class Mammalia at Race Rock

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy
and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams.  Garry Fletcher 2006

 

Phocoenoides dalli: Dall’s Porpoise–The Race Rocks Taxonomy

PB_Dalls2Porpoises diving in the rip current just west of the main Island. Photos taken by Pam Birley on the remote camera 5 November 30, 2006

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Suborder: Odontoceti
Family: Phocoenidae
Genus: Phocoenoides
Species: P. dalli
Dall’s Porpoise
Other Members of the Class Mammalia at Race Rock

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy
and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams.  Garry Fletcher 2006

 

Megaptera novaeangliae:Humpback Whale– The Race Rocks Taxonomy

humpback at RROur most recent pictures are included in the post in the log:
Humpback whales in the ecological reserve:

See all the posts on Observations of Humpback Whales at Race Rocks
Ecological Reserve.

Humpback whale humpback in Pedder Bay in Pedder Bay humpback
Raisa has several pictures on her Flickr site of humpbacks that came by in 2010. See also this page
On Thursday Oct 5, 2006 Kohei, (PC year 33) took the two pictures on the left at the mouth of Pedder Bay while on the trip back from Diving at Race Rocks. William Head is in the background. A picture of a humpback whale in Race Passage taken from Race Rocks in 2004.
humpback humpback humpback x
The whale had also been photographed by Pam Birley of England using the remote control cam 5 from Race Rocks. These three pictures are from that sighting. ou can see Victoria in the distance in this image. 03/10/06 0930

Sounds of Humpback whales from John Ford’ website:
Humpback Whale Feeding Calls:
Humpback Whale Song recording

CLASSIFICATION
Domain Eukarya
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Subclass Eutherias
Order Cetacea
Sub-order Mysiceti
Family Balaenoopteridae
Genus Megaptera
Species novaeangliae
Common Name: Hump-backed Whale (Borowski,1781)

Lontra canadensis: River Otter–The Race Rocks Taxonomy

raisanov410ottereat

This otter has just caught a female kelp greenling. I consider this one of the best ecological pictures of the year at Race Rocks–Photo by Raisa Mirza Nov 4 2010

 

Location of River Otters at Race Rocks:

rmmar09lontra

Ryan took these photos of a rover otter in March 2009. The otter was coming out of the water on the East side of great Race.

The river otter Lontra canadensis, formerly Lutra canadensis, does not really have a natural habitat at Race Rocks because they usually inhabit small bays and inlets around Vancouver Island. However they have in the past made homes in holes under man-made paths and buildings at Race Rocks. They currently have made a home under a pile of rocks formed when the Coast Guard blasted the island to make a helicopter pad in the late seventies. Most of the other man-made habitats have been eliminated. Interesting local ecology/behaviour/adaptations:
The river otter is the largest of the family Mustiladae. It is a metre or more  in length with around a third of its body taken up by its tail. It has webbed feet and claws which are useful for use in the marine and terrestrial environments in which they live.
They have thick fur with long hairs enabling them to survive low temperatures. Ryan took this image of otter tracks at Race Rocks in December 2008 when we had a few weeks of cold weather and the snow actually stayed for a few days.

rmmar09lontra2

See more photos of Ryan Murphy on his Flickr website:

When diving in murky waters through which they cannot see properly they use their whiskers to detect prey. River otters are able to communicate with each other using chirps, whistles, chatters, chuckles, screams and growls.They are one of the most playful species constantly sliding on the ground, chasing each other.

Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Subfamily: Lutrinae
Genus: Lontra
Species: canadensis pacifica (Schreber, 1977)
Common Name: River Otter

ottertrackThey have thick fur with long hairs enabling them to survive low temperatures. Ryan took this image of otter tracks at Race Rocks in December 2008 when we had a few weeks of cold weather and the snow actually stayed for a few days.

When diving in murky waters through which they cannot see properly they use their whiskers to detect prey. River otters are able to communicate with each other using chirps, whistles, chatters, chuckles, screams and growls.They are one of the most playful species constantly sliding on the ground, chasing each other.
Distribution elsewhere:
They occur along the Coast of Vancouver Island, often frequenting bays and estuaries and coastal marshes. The closest area where they are regularly found is Pedder Bay. There, we frequently see them on the college docks and on the southern shoreline. . Along streams and rivers in most of midwest and southwest USA (except Hawaii) they are common. Their population and density however varies with location. They can become a pest when they move onshore under buildings near the water.Their dead food and droppings create a disagreeable odor. They also can be vicious when cornered by humans or dogs.
Feeding particulars:
The river otter usually feeds on quite a variety of organisms, fish (herring mostly), seagulls (baby ones and eggs), crabs and shrimp. At Race Rocks they revert to birds and their eggs when the supply of herring is low. In July,1998 they wiped out the nests of black oyster catchers. They were also a threat to guillemot nests and were seen  digging away rocks to get to the nests. Whether the pigeon guillemot escaped or not is not known. Glaucous winged gull chicks are also victims. Man made habitat such as space under walkways and under buildings were removed in 2000 resulting in fewer occurrences of them on the islands.

Reproduction:

River otters usually mature at 2 years of age. Females usually get pregnant after three years. Males breed at around 5 years. See this slide show. They have litters of 1-6 with the usual amount being two or three children (kits)per mother. Female river otters have the ability to delay implantation. The young usually stay a year in the womb with a 60 day gestation period. They are quite helpless at birth and are blind. They open their eyes at around 3 weeks. The kits can take care of themselves at 5 or 6 months. However the family usually sticks together for an extra 2 months or until another litter is born.

The river otter breeds in March-April and give birth in late winter/early spring.
otterThis photo was taken in February, 2008
on the remote camera 5 by Pam Birley. The otter is seen coming out of the rock pile and moving over to the water. Below is a series of images taken by PB on February 29, 2008.

Other Posts on River Otters at Race Rock

Other posts on the Class Mammalia at Race Rocks

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams. Garry Fletcher2003

 

Zalophus californianus: The california sea lion

calif

California Sea Lion, note dry one on the left , wet one (black) on the right: photo G. Fletcher

DESCRIPTION:
C
alifornia sea lions are known for their intelligence, playfulness, and noisy barking. Their color tends toward chocolate brown, although females are often a lighter golden brown. Males may reach 1,000 lbs. (more often 850 lbs.or 390 kg) and 7 feet (2.1 m) in length. Females grow to 220 lbs. (110 kg) and up to 6 feet (1.8 m) in length. They have a “dog-like” face, and around five years of age, males develop a bony bump on top of their skull called a sagittal crest. The top of a male’s head often gets lighter with age. These members of the Otariid, or walking seal, family have external ear flaps and are equipped with large flippers which they use to “walk” on land. The trained “seals” in zoos and aquaria are usually California sea lions.

In 1970 , Trevor Anderson reported to David Hancock for the Journal article “California Sea Lion as a Regular Winter Visitant off the British Columbia Coast” that ” California Sea Lions had hauled out on rocks near the light every winter since 1966…. and a peak of population of 30 was reached in February, 1969.”

It is clear that the population of these animals has risen considerably over the years, and by 2007, up to 300 may haul out in the fall of the year. ( 500 in 2015)

They tend to move out of the dock area with the winter storms which bring swells from the North East. They also haul out mixed in with the Northern or Steller’s sealion.


RANGE/HABITAT:

seali2sleep

Ecological Equivalents: a subspecies of california sea lion from the Galapagos Islands.

California sea lions are found from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to the southern tip of Baja California in Mexico. They breed mainly on offshore islands from southern California’s Channel Islands south to Mexico, although a few pups have been born on Año Nuevo and the Farallon Islands in central California. There is a distinct population of California sea lions at the Galapagos Islands.

 

 

We keep track of the branded sealions at Race Rocks: two links: http://www.racerocks.ca/race-rocks-animals-plants/marine-mammal-tracking/

5477-1-of-1Records of Sea Lion brands: You can  see the Ecoguardian’s notes and images of the branded sea lions in the log for 2011-2013 etc. here.

Previous photos and observations of tracking devices prior to 2011 can be seen in this linked file:

 

BREEDING

Sea lions do not pup at Race Rocks, it is strictly a winter haulout colony. Most pups are born on the outer coast to the South in June or July and weigh 13-20 lbs. (6-9 kg). They nurse for at least 5-6 months and sometimes over a year. Mothers recognize pups on crowded rookeries through smell, sight, and vocalizations. Pups also learn to recognize the vocalizations of their mothers. Breeding takes place a few weeks after birth. Males patrol territories and bark almost continuously during the breeding season. Gestation lasts about 50 weeks and lactation 5 to 12 months. The longevity is estimated to be around 17 years.

SUBSPECIES

Three subspecies are recognized: Zalophus californianus californianus (Lesson, 1828), Zalophus californianus wollebaeki (Sivertsen, 1953) and Zalophus californianus japonicus (Peters, 1866), each living in a clearly separate range. According to Rice (1998), the differences between these types justifies classification as separate species: Zalophus californianus, Zalophus wollebaeki and Zalophus japonicus

ecotourimpactsSee this link to several archived videos of marine mammals. In particular note the effect of DND blasting on the colonies.

 

 

FEEDING HABITS

California sea lions are opportunistic feeders and eat such things as squid, octopus, herring, rockfish, mackerel, anchovy and whiting. The California sea lion competes with the Northern Sea Lion Eumetopias jubata for habitat and food.

NOTES

sealionraft

rafting sealions

California sea lions are very social animals, and groups often rest closely packed together at favored haul-out sites on land, or float together on the ocean’s surface in “rafts.” They are sometimes seen porpoising, or jumping out of the water, presumably to speed up their swimming. Sea lions have also been seen “surfing” breaking waves.

The males are probably the most vocal of all mammals, and let out a loud incessant honking bark to protect over their territories. They are faithful to their territories, and to their harems of up to 15 females. Sea Lions swim up to 25mph which makes them one of the fastest aquatic carnivores.

Sea lions are known to damage fishing gear and steal or destroy fish in the nets. As a result a lot of California sea lions drown in nets and they are frequently shot at by commercial fishers. This video shows a sea lion with a flasher in his mouth.

Sea lions are preyed upon by killer whales. Sea lions are known to have such diseases as pneumonia, caused by a parasitic lungworm, and a bacterial infection called leptospirosis, which affects their livers and kidneys.

Other problems for California sealions involve humans. Sea lions have been found illegally shot and also caught in drift or gill nets and other marine debris. However, their population is growing steadily, and California sea lions can be seen in many coastal spots.

At Race Rocks they can become a problem in the fall when they arrive in large numbers. We have to put up electric fencing to keep them from damaging the infrastructure on the island as they will crush pipes and instruments.

rmsept1411slstair-1

In the fall of 2011, the California sea lions were especially attracted up near the house in mid September . They all departed when an earthquake struck the north end of Vancouver island.

The Californian Sea lion was once killed in great numbers for their blubber which could be made into oil, and the rest would be made into dog food. Today the seal lion is protected by international treaty which has led to a positive shift in their populations.

rmuwoct11califswim

California Sea Lion underwater by Ryan Murphy Oct 2011

Unusual Events:

redtailThis unusual event involving a red-tailed hawk and a sea lion was observed in October 2003.

 

 

 

INJURIES:
RMdetail_20090823Sea lions bear the brunt of many actions by humans, many which could be avoided with more caution in driving boats through congregations of the  mammals.

 

 

 

 

flash2Fishers should bear some responsibility for the many instances of fishing flashers attached to hooks inside.

 

 

 

 

rmoct2011slneckWhen the sea lions are present in great numbers, we are always seeing individuals with entanglements, usually in the plastic hoops that fishers use for net bundles, Posts at this tag show many examples of injuries and entanglements.

 

 

 

 

Domain Eukarya
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Pinnipedia
Family Otariidae
Genus Zalophus
Species californianus
Common Name: California Sea Lion

Other Members of the Class Mammalia at Race Rocks.

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy
and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams. Original by Caroline Mwaniki (PC yr. 27)

 

Zalophus californianus: California Sea lion–The Race Rocks Taxonomy

rmuwoct11califswim

California sea lion photo by Ryan Murphy

 

rm2010calsl

Male California sea lion– note ears;

gf15092006calsealion

California sea lion. still wet and therefore almost black. When they are dry they are dark brown. G.Fletcher photo.

California sea lions are known for their intelligence, playfulness, and noisy barking. Their color tends toward chocolate brown, although females are often a lighter golden brown. Males may reach 1,000 lbs. (more often 850 lbs.or 390 kg) and 7 feet (2.1 m) in length. Females grow to 220 lbs. (110 kg) and up to 6 feet (1.8 m) in length. They have a “dog-like” face, and around five years of age, males develop a bony bump on top of their skull called a sagittal crest. The top of a male’s head often gets lighter with age. These members of the Otariid, or walking seal, family have external ear flaps and are equipped with large flippers which they use to “walk” on land.

The trained “seals” in zoos and aquaria are usually California sea lions.

calif

Dry sea lion on the left and wet one on the right with a northern sea lion lying behind them. Sept 2006-G.Fletcher photo

In this picture they are seen mixed in with the Northern Sea Lions on many of the islands at Race Rocks. They do prefer however, West Rock, North Rock and the North West corner and the docks area of Great Race Rocks.

 

bakerlion

Northern and California Sea lion with Mt Baker in the background. photo: G.Fletcher

In 1970 , Trevor Anderson reported to David Hancock for the Journal article “California Sea Lion as a Regular Winter Visitant off the British Columbia Coast” that ” California Sea Lions had hauled out on rocks near the light every winter since 1966…. and a peak of population of 30 was reached in February, 1969.”

It is clear that the population of these animals has risen considerably over the years, and by 2007, up to 300 may haul out in the fall of the year.

rmsept1411slstair

In the fall of 2011, the California sea lions were especially attracted up near the house in mid September . They all departed when an earthquake struck the north end of Vancouver island. Ryan Murphy photo

BREEDING

Sea lions do not pup at Race Rocks, it is strictly a winter haulout colony. Most pups are born on the outer coast to the South in June or July and weigh 13-20 lbs. (6-9 kg). They nurse for at least 5-6 months and sometimes over a year. Mothers recognize pups on crowded rookeries through smell, sight, and vocalizations. Pups also learn to recognize the vocalizations of their mothers. Breeding takes place a few weeks after birth. Males patrol territories and bark almost continuously during the breeding season. Gestation lasts about 50 weeks and lactation 5 to 12 months. The longevity is estimated to be around 17 years.

FEEDING HABITS

California sea lions are opportunistic feeders and eat such things as squid, octopus, herring, rockfish, mackerel, anchovy and whiting. The California sea lion competes with the Northern Sea Lion Eumetopias jubata for habitat and food

NOTES

California sea lions are very social animals, and groups often rest closely packed together at favored haul-out sites on land, or float together on the ocean’s surface in “rafts.” They are sometimes seen porpoising, or jumping out of the water, presumably to speed up their swimming. Sea lions have also been seen “surfing” breaking waves.

The males are probably the most vocal of all mammals, and let out a loud incessant honking bark to protect over their territories. They are faithful to their territories, and to their harems of up to 15 females. Sea Lions swim up to 25mph which makes them one of the fastest aquatic carnivores.

Sea lions are known to damage fishing gear and steal or destroy fish in the nets. As a result a lot of California sea lions drown in nets and they are frequently shot at by commercial fishers.
See examples below and in the video.

Sea lions are preyed upon by killer whales. Sea lions are known to have such diseases as pneumonia, caused by a parasitic lungworm, and a bacterial infection called leptospirosis, which affects their livers and kidneys.

Other problems for California sealions involve humans. Sea lions have been found illegally shot and also caught in drift or gill nets and other marine debris. However, their population is growing steadily, and California sea lions can be seen in many coastal spots

The Californian Sea lion was once killed in great numbers for their blubber which could be made into oil, and the rest would be made into dog food. Today the seal lion is protected by international treaty which has led to a positive shift in their populations.

Domain Eukarya
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Pinnipedia
Family: Otariidae
Genus: Zalophus
Species: californianus
Common Name: California Sea Lion

 ARCHIVED VIDEOS of Sea lions at Race Rocks
sealionimpactsSeptember, 2003 : This past few months we have seen three California and Northern Sea lions with fishing flashers hanging from their mouths. These animals pursue fishing lures , probably especially when live bait is used. They swallow the bait, and take down the meter plus length of leader line before the flasher comes to their mouth. The individuals will be seen for several days trailing these flashers. It is not known whether they eventually shed the flasher or whether this leads to an untimely death. Although they can pick up a flasher in waters at some distance from their haulouts, it certainly makes sense to restrict fishing activity when marine mammals are in the vicinity of a fishing vessel.
slionsFrom August to November, a group of California sea lions hauls out on the shore to the East of the Docks with a few even staying on the docks. They get very used to the boats docking there and are often joined by a few large Northern sea lions as well. The constant barking sound comes from the California Sea lions, and the low growls are from the Northerns.”
lionblastsEffects of DND Blasting at Bentinck Island: On November 7, 2002, the DND were still doing their demolition blasting exercises at Bentinck Island. (not Oct 7 as stated in this draft version of the video) The students from Lester Pearson College who were out for a project week were able to catch the images of the impact of these blasts on the first day from the science centre window and on the second day from the top of the light tower. In the tower, they interviewed Mike Demarchi of LGL who is currently doing a $50,000 contract for the Department of National Defence to monitor the impact of these blasts and to compare them with other disturbances at Race Rocks. ( Click on audio icon below)
ecotourimpactsEcotourism can have both positive and negative effects. In this video, you see twoecotourist whale-watching boats from Victoria B.C. that demonstrate two methods of viewing marine mammals. The yellow boat, the Prince of Whales rounds the middle rock inside the kelp bed, much too close to the island which is covered with northern sea lions and a few California sea lions. Since the animals on the North side of the island do not see the boat coming at this close distance, theyare startled and about 25 of them take to the water. Thehigh profile of the boatis increased by the individuals standing on the top of the boat, probably adding to the scare value.The other boat, the Discovery Launch, comes down the main passage between Great Race and the middle rock. They have approached slowly, drift with the current and present very little impact on both the sea lions on the middle rock and the harbour seals hauled out on the main island down in the foreground. Missing from this video however is video of their departure from the reserve where they swing in very close to the end of the docks, causing a stampede of a dozen sea lions in that areaThere are definite guidelines on viewing distance which are occasionally ignored by commercial operators and by private boats of the public that come into the reserve. Disturbance of any marine mammal colonies by vessel operators is against the law. Every time an animal has to change it’s behaviour because of human behaviour, there is a cost in terms of energy expenditure. Violations of this regulation should be reported to federal fisheries.If you feel you would like to provide feedback on this issue to the Department of Fisheries see contact information in this booklet on their Guidelines
dndblastsDND blasting at Bentinck Island.This video was made on October 7, 2002 in order to document the effect of the Department of National Defence demolition exercises on Bentinck Island on the behaviour of birds and marine mammals at Race Rocks MPA. In previous years we have observed considerable disruption by military exercises involving blasting on nearby Bentinck Island in the fall just after the sea lions have returned to the island. We have requested that blasts be spread out over a longer period of time during an exercise. Traditionally blasts have come in a series of three. The first one would alert the sea lions, the second would send a few in the water and the third would clear the islands. This year on this one occasion, only two blasts were held at five minutes apart. The results are shown in the video.gfsept0809brand849BRANDING:We often encounter marine mammals in the reserve which have been marked when trapped in another location as part of a scientific study. We are including in this file a set of pictures of marine mammals which have been tagged in various studies, along with the particulars of the observations. sealion12ENTANGLEMENT:

In September 1999, this California sealion, with a plastic hoop around his neck, was photographed from the docks at Race Rocks by MPA Guardian Carol Slater.

Sea lion with a plastic ring on his neck.

A sea lion with a plastic ring on his neck. See this file for our posts on “entanglement”. It shows the many examples of human debris compromising the health of sea lions.Sometimes however, there is a good news story. It seems like this California sea lion has made somewhat of a recovery, with skin growing over the plastic. See this and other images by . Ryan Murphy in his Flickr album.

SUBSPECIES

Three subspecies are recognized: Zalophus californianus californianus (Lesson, 1828), Zalophus californianus wollebaeki (Sivertsen, 1953) and Zalophus californianus japonicus (Peters, 1866), each living in a clearly separate range. According to Rice (1998), the differences between these types justifies classification as separate species: Zalophus californianus, Zalophus wollebaeki and Zalophus japonicus

seali2sleep

Ecological Equivalents:  The subspecies Zalophus wollebaeki sea lion from the Galapagos Islands.

 

Other Members of the Class Mammalia at Race Rocks.

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy
and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams.

File originally compiled by Caroline Mwaniki (PC yr. 27)