Sunny Day

Weather

  • Visibility: 15+ miles, Mt. Baker visible in the late afternoon
  • Wind: 0-5 knots North, later up to 10-15 North
  • Sky: clear and sunny
  • Water: rippled

Ecological

  • Still only the weaner on Great Race.
  • Very cute!

Maintenance

  • Cleaned the solar panels.
  • Various daily and bi-daily tasks.

Boats

  • At least 4 eco-tours came by today.
  • One of them was likely too close to the sea lions on the South Islands, as there was a stampede.
  • One boat was definitely fishing within the Rockfish Conservation Area, but I was unable to identify any numbers on the boat, and I suspect they were First Nations, which would make it none of my concern.
  • One sailboat wandered through in the early afternoon.

Human Impact on Sealions: Fishing Flashers, Entanglement, Boat strikes

In this post we have put together many of our references to the impacts that humans have inflicted on our California and Steller or northern sea lion population which hauls out at Race Rocks.  It includes images of fishing flashers and entanglement in commercial fishing gear, especially plastic net-binding hoops, as well as examples of strikes by boats which have injured sealions, often resulting in limb amputations. It is our hope that the fisher community can be more aware of how harmful their actions or negligence can be on marine mammal populations.  

FISHING FLASHERS:

We see this event all too often at Race Rocks. Fishers must take responsibility for removing fishing gear from the water when marine mammals are nearby. Not only is it expensive to loose equipment, the impact on these sea lions is uncertain. If the animal succeeds in breaking the leader for the flasher, then the animal only has to contend with the hook down in the stomach. It is not known how this effects sea lion mortality.

flash2

Dec. 13 2006

flasher2northern

Feb. 2006

flashernorthern

Feb. 2006

hookedsealion

This Northern sea lion was photographed on August 15, 2007 by Roth Wehrell. UVIc

front

A flasher on one of the sealions at the docks

Entanglement in Commercial Fishing Plastic bindings on Nets.

This section shows plastic neck rings from commercial fishing nets around the neck of a sea lion.
Please write your Fisheries governing departments to request that all plastic bands used in the fishing industry for binding fish nets by made of biodegradable material.

RM4_8493necklace

Neck rings on middle island

Oct26 2015

Oct26 2015

gfsept809threebrand

Sept. 9,2009-

This northern (steller’s) sea lion showed up on Middle Rock in February of 2009 . Note the ridge formed by the ring toward the head end. Photo by Ryan  two neck rings and three brands appear in the same photo from the tower. GF

Aug 31, 2009

Aug 31, 2009

Sept. 2, 2009

Sept. 2, 2009- Ryan Murphy photo

Sept. 1999

Sept. 1999 Carol Slater took this picture of a California beside the docks.

These two tags will bring up the other posts on Marine mammal Injuries and Entanglement.

See other photos from the excellent collection of Ryan Murphy on Flickr

See this reference: Entanglement of Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) in marine debris: Identifying causes and finding solutions

Kimberly L. Raum-Suryana, , , Lauri A. Jemisonb, Kenneth W. Pitcherc
Elsevier: Volume 58, Issue 10, October 2009, Pages 1487–1495
Abstract
Entanglement in marine debris is a contributing factor in Steller sea lion (SSL; Eumetopias jubatus) injury and mortality. We quantified SSL entanglement by debris type, sex and age class, entanglement incidence, and estimated population level effects. Surveys of SSL haul-outs were conducted from 2000–2007 in Southeast Alaska and northern British Columbia. We recorded 386 individuals of all age classes as being either entangled in marine debris or having ingested fishing gear. Packing bands were the most common neck entangling material (54%), followed by rubber bands (30%), net (7%), rope (7%), and monofilament line (2%). Ingested fishing gear included salmon fishery flashers (lures: 80%), longline gear (12%), hook and line (4%), spinners/spoons (2%), and bait hooks (2%). Entanglement incidence was 0.26% (SD = 0.0064, n = 69 sites). “Lose the Loop!” Simple procedures such as cutting entangling loops of synthetic material and eliminating the use of packing bands can prevent entanglements.

BOAT STRIKES:

As the Northern (Steller) and California sea lions started to return to Race Rocks in the fall of 2009, Ecoguardian Ryan Murphy noticed what may be a significant increase in the number of encounters they have had with humans. Ryan took  these pictures at the time.

Orcas, Penis, Helicopter

Ecological

  • 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.

Other:

  • 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.

Fishers and Hunters : Stewards of the Environment?

We received a copy of this article from a Sooke newspaper in July. It never ceases to amaze me how some people can be so out of touch about conservation and species and ecosystems at risk. It seems that some think that as long as “humans have it all ” then it doesn’t matter about others with whom we share the resources of this planet.

sookenewspaperarticle

Click to enlarge

Fogimatrix.

The weather here was dominated by fog today. It lifted in an interesting way this morning so that you could see out and under the fog for several miles yet there was thick fog above, at very low elevation. The rising sun shone through this clear layer, creating a weird and wonderful lighting effect from below. By mid-day the fog had burned off and sunshine prevailed at sea level. There was still fog in the shipping lane and the tops of the Olympic mountains were visible. The fog flowed back in by mid-afternoon and thickened steadily after that, pushed in by a westerly fog wind. During the day there wasn’t much wind until late afternoon/early evening when it picked up to 15 to 20 knots from the west. The barometer continued its slow trend downward that started a few days ago and the forecast looks relatively good until rain on Friday.

There was a fairly steady parade of whale watching boats in the Ecological Reserve today. They were looking at Humpback Whales, Harbour Porpoise and of course the Sea Lions. Sixteen tour boats were noted although I may have missed some in the fog. One of the tour operators had the chance to see a really big (tyee) spring salmon swimming through the kelp forest.

There were sports fishers catching Coho, Spring and Chum Salmon to the south and west of Race Rocks and many sea lions were also busy catching salmon while at the same time helping to feed the gulls with their scraps, not out of any benevolence, just because they are messy eaters.

There are many gulls here now including Glaucous-winged, Glaucous-winged hybrids and Thayer’s gull which are challenging to distinguish. I look forward to doing the census first thing tomorrow to try and figure out how many of which species. The Heerman’s Gulls continue to benefit from sea lion salmon treats which they certainly can’t do where they breed in Mexico. I like watching them. They are very beautiful and have a interesting feeding behaviours that they may have learned from birds like skimmers where they live rest of the year. They fly with their lower bill hanging down just above the water and occasional skim the water with it, catching small prey.
There are many sea lions on the west side of the island now and the westerly wind carries the dusty grime from them onto everything in its path. The Savannah Sparrows feed in and around the sea lions.

These little Savannah Sparrows forage through the sea lion waste picking up morsels and probably a few parasites.

These little Savannah Sparrows forage through the sea lion waste picking up morsels and probably a few parasites.

Elephant Seals have been hauling out on Middle Rock for over a month and now some are back on Great Race again. There was a small one hauled out on the northeastern side and a bigger one on the railway with the sea lions.

This Elephant Seal is napping with California Sea Lions on the marine railway.

This Elephant Seal is napping with California Sea Lions on the marine railway.

Washing the solar panels took a long time this morning. They were really dirty. I will do them after the census and it will probably take even longer, tomorrow as I want to shovel off the organic stuff that has accumulated before the electrician arrives to work on the panels. Today I readjusted to life on Race Rocks, finished the month-end report for September, did the seawater sample, made freshwater with the desalinator, ran the Lister generator and sorted photos as well as sea lion brand and entanglement data.

This entangled California Sea Lion has been spotted repeatedly since the end of August.

This entangled California Sea Lion has been spotted repeatedly since the end of August.

Sediment Filters Installed

What a beautiful, warm, summer day. The early fog to the south and west disappeared and it stayed calm and got warm. The smoke and particulates made for another spectacular sunset, this time without a cloud. The barometer has been slowly rising since last night with a bit of a leveling this afternoon and evening. It looks like they are forecasting outflow winds for tomorrow and that might keep the fog at bay.

There were 17 tour boats today and most of them were very respectful of the seals and sea lions that they were watching in the reserve. The recreational fishing fleet seemed to be off to the west towards Beechy Head and the Bait Shack. Although a few boats passed through slowly, no one was jigging in the reserve today.  Second Nature and Hyaku made several trips out and around the reserve with groups of students rotating through their orientation activities.

There were military explosions during the late morning and early afternoon.

There were only 99 adults Glaucous-winged gulls at sunset and I could only spot three young ones, (still actively begging). The rest have moved on. There is still one demented gull that is trying to nest, bringing bunches of grass and acting agitated. I wonder what happened to its internal clock? I also spotted both Heermann’s Gulls and California Gulls today. The number of cormorants, both Double Crested and Pelagics continue to rise. Every night a mystery bird arrives after dark and calls a bit. I would love to figure out what it is. It almost sounds like a Greater Yellowlegs but it is the wrong kind of habitat. I wonder if it flies out here because it is a safe(ish) place to sleep?

A lot of maintenance work was accomplished today. I started by washing the basement floor where plumber was going to be working. Courtney brought the plumber out in Second Nature in the morning and while he plumbed Courtney and I dealt with propane tanks and electric fences. It was good to be able to chat with this veteran eco-guardian who now works on the waterfront at Pearson College. I learned a lot. Now both houses have big cartridge filters in-line in and it looks like really professional.

 

Fishing Flashers Entanglement in Sea lions

September, 2003 : This past few months we have seen three California and Northern Sea lions with fishing flashers hanging from their mouths. These animals pursue fishing lures , probably especially when live bait is used. They swallow the bait, and take down the meter plus length of leader line before the flasher comes to their mouth. The individuals will be seen for several days trailing these flashers. It is not known whether they eventually shed the flasher or whether this leads to an untimely death. Although they can pick up a flasher in waters at some distance from their haulouts, it certainly makes sense to restrict fishing activity when marine mammals are in the vicinity of a fishing vessel.