Floyd and Chunk Throwing Their Weight Around.

It was a limpid June day with very little wind and a sultry, summer feel. The solar radiation highpoint of the day was over 1000 Watts per meter2 and this is higher than it has been all week. Around noon the wind changed direction moving about 180o from what it has been for months. It didn’t really do much other than change direction, which was in itself rather remarkable due to the longevity of the westerlies. Maybe now that the interior is heating up so much that it actually catching on fire, it is time for the outflow winds. By late after noon the wind was backing towards south. A cloud formed and dissipated, although bigger cloud formations are building along the Olympic and Cascade Mountains. Although the barometer has been dropping for > 24 hours, it is still high, at 1016 hPA. and the forecast is for clear skies, sunshine and strong westerly winds. By the time the sun set, the wind had returned to westerly 10 to 15 knots.

It was busy on the water here; with 25 whale-watching boat visits, observed within the Ecological Reserve. Some vessels made multiple trips back to Victoria and out again, the last one leaving Race Rocks at 21:20.  At times during the day, there were 5 to 10 vessels in reserve at the same time.

Most of the operators were awesome (as usual) but a few were obviously not aware of the Pacific Whale Watching Association’ Race Rocks Special Operating Area Guidelines and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Marine Mammal Regulations. The latter can carry a powerful punch. Speed is an issue, so is distance and route is another. At one point today I was concerned about the risk of collision and passenger safety but they are all used to dancing around each other and my worries may have been unwarranted. It would certainly have been difficult for any marine mammal in the water with all of those vessels plus the current to contend with.

The PWWA guidelines say that while vessels are in the Race Rocks go-slow zone, they will transit the area with the current and will remain as close to mid-channel as is possible between major rock outcroppings known as Great Race (with the lighthouse), North Race Rock, West Race Rocks and Helicopter Rock. Some operators think it okay to squeeze in between Great Race and South Islands and there is just not enough room in there even for the smaller zodiacs, especially if they are scaring animals into the water at the same time. This is a professional development opportunity for the industry. I fyou are an owner or manager, please set clear operation standards for the Race Rocks Special Operating Area. Rise above the low bar of guidelines and regulations. Educate the public by doing the right thing and demonstrate support your operators to get on side, for the business of summer is about to descend upon us.

A coast guard rigid hull inflatable hailed me when I was out on the jetty today. They were on patrol from the CCGS M. Charles M.B., which was anchored nearby. They offered support on the enforcement side for the Race Rocks Rockfish Conservation Area and said that part of why they were here was to deter marine mammal harassment. The vessel is named after a famous life-saving, west coast chief, the late Martin Charles Hereditary Chief of the Dididaht and long-time Bamfield Coast Guard hero. He was a great man and it is very good to see a Coast Guard vessel named after him.

There were only four Northern Elephant Seals on Great Race today and Middle Rock only had two. On Great Race it was Floyd, Chunk, an untagged female nicknamed Grace and the tagged female 5866. Chunk threw his weight around during the Floyd and Chunk show today and after a big, half body neck press by Chunk, Floyd fled, his usual fate. Later Floyd did the same thing to Grace, only he had her by the neck with his teeth and she is only a fraction his size. She managed to wriggle away in the water.

There was serious whale action in the area but not right in the Ecological Reserve today.

I ran the fire pump today and pumped seawater into the cistern. The transformation of saltwater into freshwater by desalination, running off solar power, is really sweet. It makes me very aware of and thankful for fresh water consumption.

Most chores were routine and there were no visitors today.