Census and gale again in the evening


At 8:00:10 North East wind ,calm and overcast .Rain in the morning and no wind at all around 10AM .The usual calm weather before a storm and  around 6:00PM to 11:00, The wind from West raised steadily from 20 to 40 knots . We noticed that the darkness is coming only after 6H30

Vessel and aeroplans

The morning was really calm so it was easy for me to notice that something was wrong…like a chainsaw running somewhere and looking by the window all around the rock you could see a small grey zodiac, full speed creating a panic all around!!! Finally It headed to Pedder Bay…End of the story. I Coast guard’s helicopter


Eagles :2 but 5 on Sunday


Steller Sea Lions :22

Californian Sea Lion:60

Elephant Seals:2 juvenile males and 1 pup

Harlequin Duck:21


Geese :8 on Saturday and 17 on Sunday!

Pigeons- Guillemots :around 35


Black turnstones:10

Harbour Seals:50

Oystercatchers:8 on Saturday but 18 on Sunday

It is interesting to notice that on Saturday with the coming storm the Island was not as busy as on Sunday where we could see more animals especially birds around.






Census day


Calm day with a west wind 5 knots,overcast,cold:2.1 degrees Celsius. The wind picked up in the evening and reached 40 knots around midnight.


We put back to the sea the dead pup. Guy used the crane . One student help,ready to cut the line ( It was not necessary)and the others watchedDSC_0310DSC_0287DSC_0290DSC_0294DSC_0307It is amazing to see how big in only one month this elephant seal pup became!


The census was done with the students


Harbour seals:37

Steller’s Sea lions : 21

Californian Sea lions:92

Cormorants: 64


Elephant seals:3 – 1 adult male , 1 pup , another one on Middle island but which one ?

Oystercatchers :6

Harlequin Ducks :24

Black Turnstones:10

Pigeons -Guillemot:0

Eagles :4


200 liters of oil transferred in the eco guardians house


2 Canadian navy boats no 706 and 710 making their way slowly towards Esquimalt at 6:00PM


Guy made a tour with some students and explain all the process for the stockage of energy and desalination of the water.










Elephant seals:4

Harlequin Ducks:4



Guillemots :5

Harbour seals:35

Californian Sea lions: 180

Steelers sea Lions:60


Black turnstones:10

Cormorants 175


anew elephant seal has arrived:a young male a few years old already big enough and healthy. the other ones don’t react negatively.


Pigeons – guillemots back


Very light wind,not stable going from  West to East,calm sea, Sky:overcast to cloudy and rainy (light).Visibility :10 miles, Air temperature:3.9 degrees Celsius.


Today for the first time this winter we saw a flock of guillemots :30 around.Chunk was gone fishing but back in the evening .12 geese almost all the time on the Rock.


One watching vessel and a big fishing boat heading to the Ocean.


Pigeons -guillemots:35

Elephants Seals : 5 to 6

Gulls :650

Californians Sea Lions :235. One tagged: no 486

Steelers sea Lions:55


Eagles:6 to 9

Harlequin Ducks:7

Harbour Seals:27


Drizzly Census


  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 10-15 knots W, later N
  • Sky: overcast with afternoon drizzles
  • Water: 1′ chop


  • Recorded eight different sea lion brands today.
  • Two Steller/Northern sea lions: 14Y and 998R.
  • Six California sea lions: U603, 7618, 8985, U374, 9403, and 8465.
  • I didn’t get good photos of all the brands, but I am certain of the characters.
  • Conducted the weekly census.
  • Didn’t see any Harlequin Ducks or Black Oystercatchers; perhaps the inclement weather kept them out of sight?
  • Big increase in the number of cormorants from last week (20 up to 146).
  1. California Sea Lions: 541
  2. Northern (Steller) Sea Lions: 202 (half of those on Middle Rock)
  3. Harbour Seals: 69
  4. Elephant Seals: 9 (3 on Great Race, 6 on Middle Rock)
  5. Sea gulls: 800
  6. Cormorants: 146
  7. Black Turnstone: 13
  8. Savannah Sparrows: 10
  9. Bald Eagles: 2 adults on West Rock
  10. Canada Geese: 2


  • The usual chores.


  • Recently some of the larger eco-tour boats appear to be getting too close to the sea lions near the jetty. Below are today’s observations.

Census Day!


  • Visibility: 15+ miles
  • Wind: 10-15 knots SW
  • Sky: clear
  • Water: calm
  • Beautiful sunrise today!

sunrise-1-29-9 sunrise-2-29-9


  • Saw four branded sea lions today.
  • One Steller branded 998R.
  • Three California’s branded X611, 88, and U22[?].
  • Conducted the weekly census.
  1. California Sea Lions: 486
  2. Northern (Steller) Sea Lions: 169
  3. Harbour Seals: 151
  4. Elephant Seals: 7 on Middle Rock
  5. Sea gulls: 1020
  6. Cormorants: 20
  7. Savannah Sparrows: 20
  8. Harlequin Ducks: 4 (2 male, 2 female)
  9. Black Oystercatchers: 3
  10. Bald Eagles: 2 adult
  11. Canada Geese: 2
  12. Black Turnstone: 1


  • The usual chores were accomplished.


  • Several eco-tours today. Nothing unusual or problematic to report.


  • Lots of DND blasting today.
  • Most of today’s blasts were louder than those from earlier this week.
  • 9:34, 9:36, 10:07, 10:09, 10:38, 10:40, 11:14, 11:46, 11:48, 12:11, and 13:14.

census jan 23


  • Wind 10 knots East becoming 30 knots West in the evening
  • Census:
    Norther sealion-105
    California sealion-146
    Harbour seal-88
    Elephant Seal-3m (incl 1 pup), 3f
    River Otter-1
    Harlequin ducks-5
    Bald Eagles-3
    Black Turnstone-2
    Black Oyster Catcher-4

Vessels: 1 sailboat and 4 ecotour boats in reserve, I went off island in the morning and returned around noon.

A Stormy Census

Ecological Happenings

  • A Stormy day on the Rock with Gale force winds and large swell running.
  • Sea lions rode out the winds in the ocean swells, rafting together in large moving masses or surfing in groups.
  • The two Bull Eseals stayed on the island.

Marine Vessels

  • Navy vessel on manoeuvres outside the reserve.
  • Accompanying Navy helicopters flying out from the ship over the reserve at night.


  • Some driftwood cleared from the boat launch ramp after the winds dropped.
  • Camera 2 re-set. Further investigation needed to resolve the network problem.


  • Number of animals in the reserve was affected by the storm (and maybe the counting too due to conditions!).

Census Count

Sea Lion 135
Harbour Seal 4
Elephant Seal 2
Cormorant 37
Gull 212
Sparrows 2
Surfbirds 3
Oyster Catcher 10
Black Turnstone 28
Raven 2
Spotted during the week
Bald Eagle (Adult/Immature) 2/8
Sparrows 5
Surfbirds 12
Oyster Catcher 18
Black Turnstone 12
Harlequin Duck 18
Canadian Geese 3
Bufflehead 1
Whales (Humpback) 2
Thayer's gulls hunkered down

Thayer’s gulls hunkered down

Surfs Up

Surfs Up

Catching a wave

Catching a wave


No Landings today!


Elephant seal hiding from the storm

Elephant seal hiding from the storm

Black oystercatchers

Black oystercatchers

Animal Census Day


Lovely day on RR. Strong swell along the coast of the reserve. Winds of around 5kts in varying directions throughout the day. The barometer was mostly consistent at around 102.5. Light winds forecast for tonight and Friday, otherwise another sunny day ahead.

Boat activity

  • Five tour boats
  • Three pleasure crafts

Ecological happening

  • Strong currents and large ocean swell on the coast of the reserve


  • Don replaced the water pump in the student house
  • Old water filter replaced in the student house to ensure clean water is being consumed on the island!


  • Courtney Edwards (Pearson’s Waterfront Officer) arrived with some supplies and was accompanied by a volunteer


Steller Sea Lions 305
California Sea Lions 647
Harbour Seals 25
Elephant Seals 10
Cormorants 140
Gulls 2648
Bald Eagle 1
Canada Goose 2
Spotted during the week
Whales (likely Humpback) 3 (apprx 2nm from reserve)
Dunlin 3
Killdeer 3
Black Turnstone 15
Sparrows 12
Oyster Catcher 9


How Low Can It Go?

Thick fog met me at dawn, not the sleepy kind that coffee cuts through, but dripping wet, zero visibility, fog created through the convergence of cold ocean water and warm air. The fog retreated and advanced repeatedly before it was beaten back by high wattage sunshine. The westerly wind blew throughout, at 5 – 15 knots only rising near sunset to closer to 20. The barometer started a gradual drop in pressure late morning yet the forecast is for sunshine and continuing westerlies.

There were a few whale watching boats in the area mid-morning with two observed in the Ecological Reserve. Sports fishing boats were seen in the general area but outside the Reserve.

The elephant seals found the trek to seawater quite an effort today and some of them gave up for a few hours on the way to have a swim. Getting back up the hill was even more of an effort.

The tide is a long way out.

The tide is a long way out.

Observational efforts were focused in the inter-tidal and on the mega-fauna census today. Another really good tide (0.5m) allowed me to do a large algal survey and find more marine invertebrate species. I will share some of the invertebrates here and come back to the seaweeds tomorrow. In each photo, if you look closely you will notice smaller and smaller animals in a wall to wall competition for space or is it sharing of space.

The human history and natural history are intertwined.

Both the natural and human history at Race Rocks are profound.

California Mussel beds are ‘old growth’ and substantial on Great Race. The large area provides important habitat creating significant diversity.


Extensive mussel beds on the south side of Great Race.

Extensive mussel beds on the south side of Great Race.

A brooding sea anemone (Epiactus prolifera) with numerous offspring attached low on the column near the pedal disc.

Epiactus prolifera

The mottled sea anemone (Urticina crassicornis) is quite common in the low inter-tidal on the south side of Great Race.

Urticina crassicornis

This species of tubeworm, named after Vancouver (Eudistylia vancouverensis) is usually more abundant sub-tidally. Here in the high current area between Great Race and South Islands, it is common in the low inter-tidal.

Eudistylia vancouverensis There is a lot of gigantism on the Pacific coast but here at Race Rocks even the giant species seem even more abundant and bigger than I have seen them elsewhere.


The gumboot chiton (Cryptochiton stelleri) is an important grazer in the inter-tidal. They are very abundant here.


The Black Leather Chiton (Katharina tunicata) is another grazer and like the gumboot chiton grows both very large and is super abundant here.


Cucumaria Dodecaceria

Orange sea cucumbers (Cucumaria miniata) are really abundant both in tide pools and under the edges of boulders and there a lot of boulders on the south side.


Three species of sea urchin were observed today, adding the green urchin (Stronglyocentrotus drobachiensis) to the list. The green and purple both like to “dress-up” aka cover themselves, with shells, seaweeds and even bits of wood. Here they were using empty limpet shells in an area frequented by oystercatchers.

drobachiensis rostangia

Green and purple sea urchins with a small orange nudibranch to their left (Rostanga pulchra) that usually lives on the red sponge Ophlitasponge.


Today was large animal census day and the results are as follows:

Humpback Whale (young (small) animal) 1

Northern Elephant Seals 34 (including 15 on Great Race)

Harbour Seals 179

California Sea lions 17 (includes brand U792)

Northern Sea lions 20 (mostly old males)

Sea Otter 1

Canada Geese 36 (includes 18 goslings)

Harlequin Ducks 8

Pelagic Cormorants 0

Double Crested Cormorants 6

Bald Eagle 2 adults, 3 sub-adults

Black Oystercatchers 10

Greater Yellowlegs 1

Black Turnstones 0 (none seen in spite of searching)

Western Sandpipers 2

Least Sandpiper 2

Pigeon Guillemots 148

Glaucous-winged Gulls total 607 (458 adults in nesting areas; 60 adults in roosting/resting area; 79 sub-adults in roosting/resting area)

Western Gull (hybrid?) 1

Herring Gull 2 (Juv.)

Common Raven 1

Northwestern Crows 2

Barn Swallows 2

Savannah Sparrow 6

There were no visitors today. Chores were routine.