The day started with fog to the south and west and it soon crept onto Race Rocks. Sun quickly prevailed over fog and it was a beautiful day with high overcast forming late in the day. The wind didn’t do much more than 5 – 10 knots from the WSW in the morning and then turned blew gently from the south before dying off altogether mid-afternoon. It rose again from the southwest as I wrote the blog. The barometer remains over 1020 hPA after climbing slowly for a week. The forecast is calling for showers beginning late this evening, but the larger picture is much sunnier after tomorrow and there is a strong wind warning for westerlies which often bring good weather.
It was much quieter here today with only four whale watching tour vessels visiting the reserve while I was here. Five sports fishing boats transited. All stopped to look at the sea lions and no one was observed speeding in the Rockfish Conservation Area today. There were two vessels that appeared to be fishing in reserve and observations, photographs and data were collected for the enforcement team. Race Rocks is closed to fishing and is part of a DFO-enforced Rockfish Conservation Area. The islets and the sea-floor are protected by the province of BC through BC Parks.
The sea lion moult continues to be the big ecological event on shore but the timing of their visit and choice of haul-out location is no coincidence to what is going on at sea. Most of sea lions are also off foraging for part of the day and the Race Rocks haul-out is in a biological hot spot, which becomes a fish funnel for incoming migratory fish at this time of year. All six species of Pacific Salmon pass right by the front door right and there is a plethora of other species to choose from the rest of the year. Race Rocks is not a breeding haul-out nor is it a true winter haul-out as the sea lions start to arrive in earnest in July and stay into winter and early spring. There are actually some animals here all year but late summer and autumn is the busiest leading up to the peak during the chum salmon run at end of October.
There are still some Glaucous-winged Gulls that have not left the roost but most of them are flying now and there are fewer here every day. That is probably a good thing for them as the predator that is picking them off is taking at least one per day. They are out foraging in groups trying to figure out how to feed themselves.
I went ashore for a couple of hours today and was otherwise busy with routine tasks. There are a lot of chores here and one of the challenges of living at Race Rocks is living sustainably and minimizing our ecological footprint. To do that we are very frugal with electricity and water, compost all organics, even using a composting toilet because when you make your own water by desalination it doesn’t make sense to just flush it away. Both have their chores too. Most of the electricity is generated with solar panels, which brings another set of activities to keep things going. We also pack everything out and are slowly removing unsustainable legacy items left by the light keepers over the years. A favorite chore is putting up a fresh new flag and there is one flying today.