Elephant seals: Chunk has appeared to be trying to mate since before the pups were born but today it was the first time I have observed successful copulation with the mother of first pup. In the photos he seemed keen to go again but she didn’t seem very interested.
Orcas: what appeared to be a family of 4 orcas passed through race passage in the morning heading East. A “Whale Research” vessel can be seen in the photo following them.
Fishing: several sports fishing boats with buoys were around the reserve today, a sure sign that the halibut fishery has reopened for the season.
took measurements for camera mounting housing and hardware
Coast Guard Helicopter pilot Captain David Ferguson paid a visit to Race Rocks with 2 crew to do routine maintenance on the light and fog signal. They came in one of the Coast Guard’s new, shiny Bell 429 machines, which apparently cost about 8.3 Million dollars apiece.
Wind: 5-16 knots from the SW and S in the early morning, NE until 17:00, SE for a few hours and calm after 20:00
Air Temperature: Low 6.6°C, High 10.3°C
Ocean Temperature: 8.9°C
The underwater camera is back up and running, after a few weeks offline. The power issue has been solved. Algae on the dome around the camera is partially obstructing the view, but it will be cleaned soon by divers from the college.
This afternoon, there were two low flying aircraft: a floatplane and a Search and Rescue Helicopter.
Three fishing boats passed through the ecological reserve today. One boat spent an hour fishing within the Rockfish Conservation Area, which is prohibited by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). The Rockfish Conservation Area is within the 40m depth contour of Great Race Rocks and Rosedale Reef, marked by the green buoy to the southeast of Great Race Rocks.
The crane needs to be run and serviced once a month. Today, it was used to lift a 12m log from the jetty beach to the boardwalk, where it will be chopped into firewood. In hindsight, it would have made it less challenging to cut the log in half while it was on the beach. Although, 6m sections wouldn’t have been as much fun to manoeuvre with the crane.
During the low tide in the afternoon, there was a large number of harbour seals and sea lions hauled out on the rocks. Two branded steller sea lions were seen on the South Islands. Both sea lions were branded as pups at Rogue Reef, Oregon. 524R was branded in 2007. 365Y was branded in 2013.
The underwater camera is back online. Now it needs a cleaning from divers. Stay tuned.
Four people on a boat violating the Rockfish Conservation Area by fishing within the 40m depth contour of Great Race Rocks.
The same boat, Island Girl, speeding (faster than 7 knots) through Middle Channel.
62 harbour seals were counted on Turbine Rock during this afternoon’s low tide of 0.8m.
The log has been landed. It still needs some more support on land.
The log gets secured to the crane.
Amongst the group of california and steller sea lions, there are two branded steller sea lions: 365Y and 524R.
Feb 1: Cloudy with rain, wind N 10-15 knots. 1 dive boat and 2 kayaks in the reserve. The dive boat was observed with an anchor in use in the reserve which is not allowed except for in emergencies. Cut and chopped fire wood.
Feb 2: Rain, wind NE 10-15 knots in morning switching to West in afternoon, up to 30 knots. I went off island in the morning and attended the Pearson College staff meeting. Picked up Virginie at airport and groceries along the way back. Returned to island late afternoon as wind was starting to pick up.
Feb 3: Wind light, low visibility in the morning. Worked on month end report and DFO seawater data entry.
Feb 4: Cloudy, wind NE 15-20 knots. A coast guard helicopter landed on the pad before noon to do maintenance on the tower light. The pilot, Mike, and technician, Derrick, were on their way back from the Carmanah station. While waiting on the maintenance work I invited the pilot in for tea and heard some stories from his nearly 40 years of service including his experience piloting a helicopter out to the drilling rig the Ocean Ranger the night it sank in 1982 on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. They flew out knowing they didnt have enough fuel to make the return trip and would have to land on another drilling rig, in the storm, in order to re-fuel. By the time they arrived there were only bodies floating in the sea, all 84 crew members on the rig died.
Feb 5: Rain, wind NE becoming variable, 4 foot swells coming in from the NE in the morning, low visibility. Worked on finishing month end report and preparing guest house for visitors. At night, on my way to check the generator, I could hear elephant seal pup vocalizations coming from West rock. I hadn’t seen or heard any sign of the pup for several days, since last reported in the log.
There has been a fairly steady 20-35 NMPH NE wind blowing since Sunday which has meant pretty constant white caps and waves breaking along the jetty, the sky has been mostly clear. This has made any transport to/from island difficult. On Monday Erik brought out an electrician and apprentice to remove the failed inverter. He wasn’t able to stay tied up very long on the jetty. We got the inverter off and it is now in Vancouver for servicing.
On Tuesday one eco tour vessel passed through the reserve. There was also a government barge and tug boat that seemed to have some trouble while going through Race passage. With a strong tail wind and current the barge seemed to pick up speed and get ahead of the main tug. Between here and Church Rock, I watched them maneuvering in what appeared to be efforts to regain control. Eventually they got it under tow again and reversed direction, with main tug pushing the barge from behind going backwards, and they tucked in behind Christopher point for protection. Several hours later they pulled out and returned in the direction from where they came, apparently having abandoned their original destination. Navy exercises most days this week with large vessels and several zodiacs trailing.
tug and barge heading SW through Race passage with NE tail wind
stopped, crane ahead of barge behind west rock
behind west rock
later in the day heading back NE
Bertha and Chunk continue mating, pup continues putting on fat. Bertha seems ready to leave any day now, she is visibly thinner, paler in colour and seems more passive and lethargic. The female eseal that had been in S bay has left, I assume to get out of the cold wind which has been below zero plus wind chill while sea temp is currently around 7 degrees C. The younger male e-seal is visible out on Middle Rocks today and has been there the past few days.
A coast guard helicopter arrived today for maintenance on the light and fog horn. They landed next to tower as usual which was pretty close to elephant seals, Chunk took off around the other side of the house but returned soon after to mate. While clearly bothered by the sound, wind/debris and proximity of the helicopter the mother and pup didnt or couldnt really move away.
-Checking heating coils on exposed water lines
-cut, chopped, stacked fire wood
-running some heat in main house in the evenings to keep it warm
-worked on wiring/lights in whaler
-communications for wood stove/inverter/solar
-entered data and submitted DFO boat count and Seawater samples
-made parts list for plumbing in main house
-month end report fuel inventory