Disturbance from Kayaks at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve

Kayaks are frequently a problem in the reserve, as kayakers seem to think they are so environmentally friendly that they can approach the bird and marine mammal areas without causing disturbance. We believe from our observations however, that kayaks are in fact the most disruptive form of transportation around the islands. Their quiet, stealthy approach to within the flight distance of the birds and mammals often leads to a greater stampede effect when the kayaks are noticed. There must also be continued enforcement of speed limits in the reserve, and a total exclusion is recommended for all motorized ski craft, before it becomes an issue.Link to the Ecoguardians posts which demonstrate the Problem with Kayaks
All of the margins of the islands are especially sensitive when seal pupping takes place from April to August. In particular, the channel to the south of the tower must be off limits to all boats. Harbour seals and cormorants especially are spooked at any time of the year when kayaks or other boats approach. Research has been done on this problem by Trudy Chatwin. It is available here: http://ecoreserves.bc.ca/category/17+management/entitled How Close is too close and Development of Scientifically base Guidelines for Viewing Seabirds
On February 3, 2007, the cormorants in the photos below on the left were suddenly disturbed by kayakers approaching too closely to the shore of Race Rocks . An observant viewer on the cam 5 robotic camera sent these photos with the comment: ” There was a sizeable group of cormorants with those seagulls and suddenly they took to the air – I thought it was an eagle approaching but it was the paddlers, so they did indeed scare the birds.  The picture on the left was taken a few seconds before the kayaks were seen.”.
kayak Kayak Kayak Kayak

marine mammal viewing distancemarine mammal viewing distanceDistance between the main islands. This map shows the 100 metre zone around areas of marine mammal haulout and seabird colonies. This is the recommended minimal viewing distance. See DFO regulations

Return to the file on : Index of Disturbances of the Ecosystem at Race Rocks
Link to: Updated Draft of the Marine Mammal regulation Ammendments ( DFO)