Race Rocks Millenium Project 2002-2004

A Bold Initiative: racerocks.com utilizes 21st century technology to maximum advantage to create a dynamic educational web experience utilizing the extraordinary marine eco-system at Race Rocks, Canada’s most southerly point in the Pacific.

Real time streaming video webcasts digital images of marine life from above the sea at Race Rocks and below the ocean when divers are on hand to do the live mobile webcasts. In addition, a complete environmental scan will be continually transmitted from the site using an array of data sensors in five ecosystems of the area.

The knowledge of the First Nations is being explored and explained as the Salish people share generations of experience in living in harmony with the abundance that once dominated this region and is now threatened.

Creative educators are developing internet-based curriculum to stimulate students and teachers to engage fully in the racerocks.com educational program. Researchers will share their studies and discoveries as we gain a new and deeper understanding of the ecosystem

The Place

For centuries, deep ocean currents and the great rivers of the Georgia Basin have converged in the Strait of Juan de Fuca between southern Vancouver Island and Washington State. Race Rocks reveals itself as nine rocky outcrops thrust from the ocean floor in the middle of the strait.

For generations the people of the Salish Nation prospered in this region at the entrance to the Salish Sea. The extraordinary richness of this diverse ecosystem represented by Race Rocks is valued today as it was then. Race Rocks has been an ecological reserve since 1980 and is becoming Canada’s first internationally recognized Marine Protected Area.

The small, rocky outcrops are home to seals, sea lions, elephant seals and birds, as well as the buildings and equipment of the Race Rocks Lighthouse. These outcrops are literally the tip of the ecosystem New leading-edge bathymetry reveals Race Rocks as a giant underwater mountain. The diversity of marine life is breathtaking and still not fully explored. The teachings of Salish elders merge with more recent science to explain the mysteries of nature at Race Rocks.

The Technology

Recent developments have made a complex real time streaming video site possible. Presently three and potentially up to seven digital cameras and an array of data sensors above and below the ocean at Race Rocks will collect information. The signal is compressed and transmitted by broad band radio from the top of the Race Rocks light tower direct to nearby Pearson College. From Pearson College, through high speed fiber links to the racerocks.com server, and then on to the AKAMAI network, the video and data will be available throughout the internet. Two-way interactive capability is being incorporated into the design to allow for specific educational programming.

The Partners

Pearson College websiteLester B. Pearson College– is one of ten United World Colleges located around the world. Two hundred students from over 80 countries study the International Baccalaureate curriculum during their two years at Pearson College. Garry Fletcher, a faculty member teaching Environmental Systems and Biology at Pearson College, is the educational director of racerocks.com. Garry and his students will guide the educational content of the site. Pearson College operates the former Race Rocks light station facilities as a education centre under an agreement with BC Parks. Pearson College is the lead proponent and partner directing the racerocks.com project.

LGS Group Inc. – is one of Canada’s largest full service IT consulting firm with 2100 employees in 20 offices in Canada, Europe and the US. LGS is donating the time and resources to provide project management and web design services in the creation of racerocks.com. Along with their ability to capitalize on emerging Internet technologies to promote the project, LGS brings essential knowledge, skills, and expertise. 

Telus– a leading Canadian telecommunications company, is providing the bandwidth and server capability  to host racerocks.com. Skilled technical staff at Telus have assisted in the development and implementation of the project assuring high-speed delivery to the Internet and accessibility to a large audience. Telus is donating this component to racerocks.com.

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre-a leading organization in marine research and public education on the West Coast of Canada. The Marine Science Centre has committed a significant contribution of funds and expertise to the project. In return it will gain a new window for aquarium visitors into an ecologically sensitive marine world at the South tip of Vancouver Island. The most recent contribution is a hydrophone which will be installed subtidally at Race Rocks.

 Apple Computers (Canada)The Computers that we use for the live video webcasts from Race Rocks are all made by APPLE COMPUTERS. In July of 2000, Apple Canada became a partner in the Millennium Partnership program with the donation of a Macintosh PowerBook G3. 500 MHz. It followed up with further support in April of 2001 with the donation of a G4 500 MHz portable computer. These new high speed computers have been essential in broadcasting the manually operated live programs from the islands.They have been a most valuable addition for our live video webcasting programs.

Apple Learning Interchange The quicklime live video streams are being hosted by the Apple Learning interchange over the Akamai Internet distribution network. In April of 2001, a set of three airport cardds was provided by ALI in order to make all the cameras webcasting wirelessly from the island. Race Rocks support pages, learning activities, discussion forums, and scheduled chats are available at: http://ali.apple.com/events/racerocks

Seapoint Sensors Inc. of Kingston New Hampshire has joined as a partner providing a turbidity meter for measuring turbidity or suspended solids and a Chlorophyll fluorometer for measuring chlorophyll a . Both are representative of a fine line of high performance oceanographic sensors. They are installed subtidally in 8 meters of water off the docks on the North Side of Race Rocks .

CompuSmart of Victoria , B.C. has joined as a partner in providing the majority of the funds for the purchase of a new computer for the Database which is being produced to handle the Phase 2 Environmental Data Sensors for Race Rocks.

Sorenson Media is providing software to assit in the production of the live streaming video and the improvement of the archived video on the website.

FRIENDS of ECOLOGICAL RESERVES-The “Friends” have been long time supporters of Race Rocks. They have given financial help for the purchase in 2000 of a camera for the project and in 2001, a SONY wireless microphone.

SONY of Canada Ltd.

joined as a partner in April of 2001, with the donation of a SONY Digital Video camera. This camera jopins the three other SONY cameras that are used to provide the live streaming video from Race Rocks.

Government Agencies- racerocks.com has received assistance from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in many aspects of the project development. BC Parks has provided the use of buildings and facilities at Race Rocks. Both levels of government are working cooperatively with local First Nations groups as well as other community groups to create the Race Rocks Marine Protected Area.


Millennium Partnership Fund– racerocks.com would not have been possible without major funding from the Canadian Millennium Partnership Fund of the Government of Canada. We are very grateful to the Federal Government and all those who assisted us in our application.


Graduate Students We are particularly fortunate to benefit from the services and support of a number of alumni of Lester B. Pearson College who have donated their time or have given direct financial assistance to racerocks.com

Ken Dunham ( PC year 9) has designed and implemented the advanced network at Pearson College, and recently
extended these facilities across the water to Race Rocks.

Giovanni Rosso (PC year 24) has provided the money for a digital camera which we use to document the project.

Jochen Kumm (PC year 10) has provided a computer for the Ecological Overview database and is assisting with the development of the Environmental Database for racerocks.com

Affiliated Organizations

  • Glentel