July 1st to 3rd : Summer time

July 1ST to 3rd: Summer time is here

If on the last day of June the wind was blowing up to 38.9 around 7:00 the 1st of July and the following days we had some light westerly wind increasing to 25 knots at the most in late afternoon. Water temperature has been steady above 12 Celsius and in Race Rocks no heavy hot days just the best …a light breeze above the houses.

The first of the month (Our Canada flag prouder than ever) has been a very busy day around Race Rocks. Fishing boats and whales watchers were attracted by a pod of orcas heading from ocean to Victoria and we could see them a mere half mile away from the rock on the South West side. All the boats were around and quickly disappeared following the whales.

At 5h00 in the morning, one after the other Floyd and Chunk, the 2 belching and dripping water Elephants Seals, came back from sea ready for a long sleepy day…but we were surprised, in the middle afternoon they gave us a real show. The 3 of them spent more than an hour playing like crazy in the shallow waters by the the jetty for the pleasure of a big whale watchers boat a little too close …but it was such a nice show! Some friends of us at the camera took pictures of the whole thing!

Divers came too and this time very closed to the shore maybe 15 meters! Some were snorkeling and 2 had bottles. They stayed not for long I would say 30mn.

Chicks are now everywhere to be seen…and the island get very noisy .
It ‘s just amazing to see how well protected those new ones are by the whole community. Even the eagles fly away.

Today for the first time in a week the generator has been on for a few hours

Guy had to look at the quantity of oil on the island, that is to say in the 2 houses (175 and 154 liters) the 3 drums (208 liters each), the 2 tanks –the big one (1120 liters) and the new smaller one (200 liters).

Yesterday, July 3rd. It was time for some groceries to buy. We have been surprised to see how hot it was in town and even at the college only a few miles away…We were really happy to come back a few hours later. We had a calm weather condition for the whole day, west winds from 0.11 knots to 23 knots in the end afternoon, very good visibility 10 miles at least.

March 18 – Divers Clean the Underwater Camera

Sunny
Wind: SW 5-14 knots in the morning, NE 5-9 knots in the late morning to afternoon, calm in the evening
Air Temperature: Low 7.8°C, High 10.7°C
Ocean Temperature: 8.8°C

Nine students came this afternoon with Courtney, Laura and Nazim to dive from the jetty. The seven divers were in groups of two and three for 30 minute dives. The others provided support from above.

Bader and Sean dove together and followed the cable out to the underwater camera, which lies at a depth of 12m of water out from the end of the jetty. They cleaned the plastic dome, which had become dirty with diatoms. See the photos below.

The divers mentioned seeing lots of vivid colours and amazing species including: urchin, anemone, rockfish, greenling, rose star and bull kelp.

Up on land, there was lots of vitamin D to soak up today while doing outdoor tasks: chopping firewood, stacking firewood, sweeping and tending to compost.

There was one fishing boat seen passing through the reserve today.

Cold, Sea Lion Brands and Beautiful Sunset

The wind blew from the northeast, between 15 and 25 knots.  The barometer rose in the morning from 1024 hPa and then dropped to 1020 hPa.  The visibility was unlimited, with great views of Mt. Baker and many other wonders of the Salish Sea.  The temperature reached a high of 2oC as I am writing this at 21:00.

The dive boat from Ogden Point visited at 11:00.  The group was diving around Middle Rock.

I was going to leave on the Race Rocks boat this morning for a short trip into Pedder Bay to drop off garbage and pick up gas.  A lot of garbage is being swept onto the shores of the ecological reserve.  I thought I had a good window to get away from the jetty. Although, the northeasterly swell started to pick up just as I was putting the boat in the water.  The waves were too high as they rolled into the jetty, so I changed my plans and raised the boat back into the boat house.

Two branded sea lions were spotted today.  See the photos and captions below for 359Y and 975Y.  In November there were 20 different brands spotted around Race Rocks. Many of those california and steller sea lions had never been spotted before at Race Rocks.

I collected depth soundings from all the tanks around campus for the month end report. 475L of diesel was used over the past month to power the generator and heat the houses. Last year in November, 737L of diesel was used.  The reduction of diesel use by a third  this year has come from increased power output from the solar array as well as the wood stove, which was installed last winter in the Ecoguardian’s House.  There are lots more changes being made to transition to more sustainable power sources.  Stay tuned to this blog to read about them as they are introduced.

Getting Ready for the Census

The northeasterly wind picked up to 23 knots in the middle of day, producing a choppy swell with frequent whitecaps.  Mixed with the inflowing tide, the standing waves off the end of the jetty became quite large.  The barometer dropped steadily.  There was a low cloud cover with a few scattered showers.

The Juan De Fuca Warrior from Ogden Point visited twice with two groups of four divers.

I prepared for tomorrow’s census by practicing my species identification and counting.  The numbers will be double checked tomorrow and revealed on the log.  The sea lions are proving difficult to count, due to their large cuddle puddles.  Where does one sea lion begin and the other end?

I checked the underwater camera twice today.  Both times there was a sea lion swimming across the screen just as it loaded, but I wasn’t fast enough to click the button to save the image.

Up on land, the california sea lion that was camped out by the desalinator bunker for the past two and a half days decided to move this evening.  It must have got tired of waiting for the new desalinator pump.  Don’t worry, it should be here by Friday.  Just before sunset, the sea lion waddled on all four flippers eastward over the salt water cistern and down the rocks to the water.  Taking many breaks along the 50m overland journey, it collapsed and exhaled large lungfuls of steamy breath.

Desalinator lion

Desalinator sea lion

These steller and california sea lions don't make it easy to count them.

The steller and california sea lion cuddle puddles don’t make it easy to count them.

A self loading self dumping log barge is towed towards the west past the reserve.  Where is this floating forest from?  Where is it going?

A self loading self dumping log barge is towed towards the west past the reserve. Where is this floating forest from? Where is it going?

A Good Day for the Birds

As the sun rose, the wind and sea were calm. The wind picked up throughout the morning to become a moderate breeze with light rain and choppy seas during the afternoon. The barometer rose during the morning and dropped slightly in the afternoon, levelling out at 1014 hPa in the evening.

Eight boats were seen visiting the ecological reserve: 4 whale watching boats, 1 pleasure craft, 2 visits from SCUBA divers at Ogden Point Dive Centre and one boat from Pearson College to pick up Rikka, a student who was visiting for the last four days.

Maintenance tasks were performed today: chopping driftwood for the fire, daily seawater salinity test, running the generator and cleaning the houses.

Two crows were making their rounds on the reserve throughout the day. A juvenile bald eagle flew around Great Race at 0800, landing on Turbine Rock. An adult bald eagle landed on the high point of the South Islands at 1345 and took watch for an hour.

A bald eagle and sea lions on South Islands

A bald eagle and sea lions on South Islands

Clear Skies

As the daylight broke, the fog began to burn off near the entrance of Pedder Bay and to the west of Race Rocks. The wind rose slightly throughout the day to a medium breeze of 11 knots in the evening. Clear skies prevailed through the day as the barometer rose slightly.

Maintenance tasks were performed throughout the day, giving me a chance to spend lots of time outside: painting, tidying, sweeping, cleaning the solar panels, and topping up the batteries with the generator.

There were ten boats in the seen in the reserve. Several whale watching boats passed by. The Juan De Fuce Warrior from Ogden Point Dive Centre spent a few hours with two groups of divers. Two boats from Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) Station in Sooke passed through Middle Channel at noon. A sailboat went against the current through Middle Channel at 15:30.

Divers from Ogden Point Dive Centre with curious California Sea Lions looking on

Divers from Ogden Point Dive Centre with curious sea lions looking on

sailors

A sailboat heads northeast by Middle Rock

Elephant seal

Flag at half mast with the sunset in the background

Camera 2 Reconnected

The weather changed many times today. It started out foggy with no wind, then cleared with a light north wind. Then it clouded over and blew a little more from the southeast. By late after noon there was light rain, which continued into the evening while the wind shifted back to the northeast. The barometer remained fairly steady until this evening when it started to fall. The forecast for the weekend is cloudy with showers and a strong wind warning for central Juan de Fuca Strait.

Only one whale watching boat was noted in the Ecological Reserve today and it arrived in front of the jetty at the exact time that Second Nature arrived with students from Pearson. Second nature tied up to the jetty and conducted a working dive installing the underwater camera (Webcam #2). Half the team dealt with mounting and connecting the camera while the rest of the crew ran the cable out and secured it along the way. Everyone was well-briefed top-side and it was probably a thrilling dive with the many sea lions in the water all around the divers. Students Stuart, Alex and Sean were in the water with Chris and Courtney led Joliene, Sarah and Yam. Riikka was dive marshal and had a crew of three who made sure that everything went according to plan. The camera is installed and connected and we should be able to view it again shortly.

I didn’t spend much time on ecological observations today but as I was wheel barrowing gear around in the morning, I looked up and saw a big flock of Turkey Vultures. They seemed to be coming from Rocky Point and heading across the Strait to Washington State. They seemed to be using the light tower as a navigation aid. I counted and the group included 102 birds. Five of them turned around just after Race Rocks, maybe they had forgotten their passports.

Today was a clean-up and re-group day here. I tidied up after the electricians and moved and packaged up the waste and debris from the oil change on the Lister generator. The solar panels were washed, fresh water made and electricity generated. Just before the dive was over I launched the boat and went to pick up Alex.

L86 was seen with the first new SRKW calf since 2012

The great weather with gentle outflow conditions continued for today but looks like we will be back to westerlies tomorrow and that may bring back the fog. The barometer slowly slid all day but is still relatively high.

There were only three tour boats today with the Bigg’s Killer Whales gone from this area and the Southern Resident Killer Whales in the Gulf Islands.

Several boaters were reported fishing illegally in the Race Rocks Close Conservation Area today. Juan de Fuca Warrior approached one of those boats and they pulled up and left the reserve. The people in the Juan de Fuca Warrior dropped off SCUBA divers just off of Great Race. I had to go on the VHF radio for the other two, both rentals from Pedder Bay Marina, other folks on the radio were supportive and eventually the poachers left.

Later when there were no fishers in the reserve, a Fisheries boat passed to the south and the Becher Bay Fisheries Patrol came through the reserve. Good to know that there are allies out there.

I completed the first part of the Glaucous-winged Gull mortality study today and didn’t have much time for any other substantial observations. Chris Blondeau came out with family visitors and delivered propane, food and other supplies. One thing we saw together was a California Sea Lion with and orange flipper tag on the left, front flipper and a ring around its neck or at least a mark from a line of some sort. It may have been healed but there was still an obvious mark. The orange tag means the individual had been at a rehabilitation centre in California, maybe the neck line was removed. Right now in California, many sea lions are having seizures and dying and some are being rehabilitated at Marine Mammal Centers, they are tagged on release too.. The illness is due to domoic acid poisoning from algal blooms.

Good news from off the rock but in the ‘hood’ today, as reported by the Center for Whale Research, L86 was seen with the first new calf in the Southern Resident Killer Whale population since 2012. That is really good news. right here is where they used to be captured for aquarium shows back in the day. Great to see that endangered population growing again.

Chores completed included simple things like fixing the hoses so they could be used without losing water like paper bags, adding peat moss to the compost and wetting it down so it won’t blow away immediately. The solar panels got an extra special fresh water cleaning today and I worked a bit on the jetty fence and science house perimeter.