Last day

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 Miles
  • Wind:  0-5 SE
  • Sky: overcast to partly cloudy
  • Water: calm

Boats/Visitors

  • A few ecotours today

Ecological

  • 11 elephant seals scattered around today

Other

  • Today is my last full day, I head out tomorrow but I hope to be back in the fall

Census Day

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 Miles
  • Wind:  20-15 NW
  • Sky: overcast
  • Water: calm

Boats/Visitors

  • A few ecotours today

Ecological

  • 11 elephant seals scattered around today, mostly around the jetty to cool off in the water

Census

  • Stellar Sea Lions: 33
  • California Sea Lions: 23
  • Elephant Seals: 11
  • Harbour Seals: 161
  • Unspecified Gulls: 212
  • Pigeon Guillemots: 53
  • Cormorants: 12
  • Canada Geese: 19
  • Oystercatchers: 8
  • Harlequinn Ducks: 0
  • Crows: 1

Notes

  • The harbour seal numbers have significantly increased but all of the other numbers seem to have gone down
  • The little elephant seal is back, I haven’t seen her for a few days

Seagulls vs Elephant Seals

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 Miles
  • Wind:  5-10 W
  • Sky: overcast some rain
  • Water: calm

Boats/Visitors

  • A few ecotours came by today

Ecological

  • 11 elephant seals today mostly in the front of the house but went down to the jetty, I see still don’t see the youngest female around
  • There are definitely more seagull eggs, an elephant seal got too close to one of their nests earlier and got into a fight with two of them, the gulls won, the seal wiggled away

 

Nesting and Fighting

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 Miles
  • Wind:  15-20 SW
  • Sky: overcast some rain
  • Water: choppy, no more than 1 metre waves

Boats/Visitors

  • A few ecotours came by today

Ecological

  • 11 elephant seals today, 5 of them are male, and they have been fighting with each other all day the other 6 females have been pretty aggressive toward each other today as well
  • The gulls have started nesting and will get protective if you get too close
  • The geese are just at the end of nesting and are still pretty aggressive
  • I came across 2 oystercatcher nests while cleaning the solar panels today, thankfully they just get loud and try to distract you away from their nests rather than attacking
  • Also I have not seen the youngest female elephant seal around

Another Foggy Day

Weather

  • Visibility: 0 Miles
  • Wind:  25-30 SW
  • Sky: Completely foggy from 1am until 7:30pm
  • Water: choppy, not too big

Boats/Visitors

  • A few ecotours came by today despite the fog

Ecological

  • 12 elephant seals scattered around, mostly in the front of the house

Census Day, Thursday, May 25th

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 Miles
  • Wind:  0-5 NW
  • Sky: clear and sunny
  • Water: calm

Boats/Visitors

  • Many different boats around today

Ecological

  • 14 elephant seals scattered around today, mostly around the jetty to cool off in the water

Other

  • DND blasting continues

Census

  • Stellar Sea Lions: 42
  • California Sea Lions: 44
  • Elephant Seals: 14
  • Harbour Seals: 36
  • Unspecified Gulls: 321
  • Pigeon Guillemots: 120
  • Cormorants: 23
  • Canada Geese: 16
  • Oystercatchers: 8
  • Harlequinn Ducks: 5 males (that I could see)

Notes

  • I have not seen any eagles today but I saw them yesterday and they have been hanging around so I am guessing they are around here somewhere
  • There is another Elephant seal
  • An increase in sea lions as well as gulls

 

 

Census day

Weather

  • Visibility: 10 Miles, a bit foggy this morning but burned off by noon to partly cloudy
  • Wind: 10-15 NW got continuously more calm through the day
  • Sky: partly cloudy throughout the day
  • Water: stayed consistently calm

Boats/Visitors

  • A lot of ecotours came through today
  • Had a couple visitors, come by with Kyle this morning and then had Kyle and Guy come back this afternoon to help me out with a couple things

Ecological

  • Census day!
    1. Steller (Northern) Sea Lions: 35
    2. Harbour Seals: 44
    3. California Sea Lions: 23
    4. Elephant Seals: 13
    5. Seagulls unspecified: 291
    6. Pigeon Guillemots: 152
    7. Cormorants unspecified: 29
    8. Canada Geese: 14
    9. Savannah Sparrows: 0
    10. Harlequin Ducks: 8 (2 female, 6 male)
    11. Black Oystercatchers: 8
    12. Bald Eagles: 2 (2 adults, 1 immature)
  • There are 2 more elephant seals than usual! so thats exciting, they stayed scattered today on the path from the lighthouse to the jetty
  • As you can see there have been a decrease in sea lions, they are no longer on the southern rocks and have moved to the main island one group on the north side and another group on the southside
  • There have been an increase in gulls, pigeon guillemots and cormorants, also the harlequins are back, I did not see them last week
  • There has also been an increase in harbour seals, when I counted them they were mostly all on the Middle Rocks but have since scattered about the South Islands as well

Cenusus Day

Weather

  • Visibility: 10 Miles
  • Wind: Morning 0-5 NW picked up in the afternoon, varied between 10-20 knots NW
  • Sky: Overcast, bit of rain throughout the day
  • Water: calm

Ecological

  1. Steller (Northern) Sea Lions: 45
  2. Harbour Seals: 30
  3. California Sea Lions: 37
  4. Elephant Seals: 11
  5. Seagulls unspecified: 278
  6. Pigeon Guillemots: 125
  7. Cormorants unspecified: 16
  8. Canada Geese: 19
  9. Savannah Sparrows: 12
  10. Harlequin Ducks: 0
  11. Black Oystercatchers: 8
  12. Bald Eagles: 2 (2 adults, 1 immature)

Boats

  • had a few eco tours come through morning and late afternoon

Maintenance

  • Scrubbed some of the solar panels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Spray and Flying Foam

Update at 17:40

Since writing the log the wind turned to west, southwest and came up even stronger. We have sustained gusts up to 62.7 knots. Seas are coming over the helipad and the tank-shed and boat shed roofs are being stripped off and are flying past the house. Yikes.

Sustained east, southeast winds of 30 to 40 knots, gusting to over 50, pushed seas up into breaking whitecaps this morning. Large breakers rolled down the jetty and rose up around the derrick base making seawater sampling impossible. Under heavy skies, waves crashed against the eastern face of Great Race and flying sheets of salt spray dominated the small landscape here. There was even a pocket of sea foam building up on the boulder beach and foam was flying right across the island.

Barometric pressure dropped overnight and kept going down in the morning, reaching 982 HPa by early afternoon. The highest gusts were observed late morning 53.4 knots on the Lighthouse system which we can monitor in the kitchen. Gale warnings continue and the forecast is calling for a turn to strong westerlies in the afternoon, diminishing to southwest 15 to 20 overnight. As this log is posted at ~15:00, there is no sign of it letting up and the rain has started.

It was not a day for small vessels to be out and none were seen. Pan pans on the VHF radio included an overturned Junior Flyer with a father and son (a child), clinging to the hull of the overturned vessel. Their call originated in Puget Sound and the US Coast Guard rescued them. What was that man thinking?

There is obviously a great deal of mixing going on in the sea, with all the wind and wave energy churning things. That means spring phytoplankton blooms are still some time away and early herring spawns may produce larvae that go hungry. Stratification (stable layering of the water) becomes possible when less dense surface waters (warmer, less salty, or both), float on top of denser seawater (saltier, colder or both). That layering in surface waters gives some stability for growth of photosynthetic plankton that drive the food chain and rely on light. Light levels are returning, there are lots of nutrients, so as soon as it calms down for a while there should be a plankton ‘bloom’.

On the bottom, microscopic Bull Kelp ‘plants’ are starting to grow now. They will be full size by July after phenomenal  growth fuelled by sunlight and nutrients. A few ‘old growth’ Bull Kelp were visible today, silhouetted through the waves on breaking reefs; for brief seconds as the waves crested, they stretched out fully vertical. Bull Kelp clings with tenuous holdfasts anchored through storms and calm. They are considered to be an annual species and don’t generally last much more than a year so the ones still here are very hardy.

The wild goose chase continued today as if the weather wasn’t enough to ward them off. It was too windy for the eagles and the gulls were hunkered down in nooks and hollows head into the wind in order to stand their ground against the wind. A few of the larger sea lions managed to haul out mid day. It looked too difficult (and dangerous) for the smaller animals that were seen cavorting in the waves. Again there was no sign of seals or guillemots.

Landing would have been impossible today. Even at low tide, big breakers were sweeping the jetty. Chores were routine as wind and spray permitted.

Like the farm of the same name 'Wind Whipped'.

Like the farm of the same name ‘Wind Whipped’.

 

 

 

Wild Easterlies

The ferocity of 40-knot easterly winds and heavy seas made for a spectacular storm day. The barometer, deflected by a big low-pressure system (965 hPa) passing by offshore, started to drop at about 08:00 this morning from the overnight high of 1008. As this piece was posted at 17:00, the pressure is 994 hPa and still falling.

A gale warning is in effect and the Environment Canada marine forecast calls for winds to veer to the south 25 to 35 tonight. The wind is supposed to drop to southwest 15 to 25 knots by Thursday morning and to light by evening. Although there was a brief period without rain in the morning, sea spray and rain mixed in the afternoon. Rain is forecast on and off for the rest of the week.

Not surprising, there were no vessels seen in or around the Ecological Reserve today. The neighbourhood explosions continued mid-day and I did not envy those standing by in the two little boats, on watch, as the winds and sea rose.

Ecologically, it almost feels like a step back into winter except for warm temperatures and longer days. The flowers are taking a beating and facing west away from the wind. Even the sea lions retreated to the sea and the young ones spent the day surfing and catching airtime. Some gulls seemed to savour the chance interact with high winds, doing skilled flying with high speed turns and tucks, while others hunkered down, facing into the wind and occasionally blown off their roosts. Geese were easily persuaded to flock off early.

Ocean surface temperature dropped from the last few days’ readings, by 0.1 degrees to 8.9o C. The mixing caused by the storm was palpable as large breakers’ tops blew off and the circular motion of the waves was exaggerated by opposing tidal currents.

There were no visitors and chores were routine. Photos were only taken through the window to save the camera from salt spray.

This photo doesn't really capture the mighty waves, but it gives you an idea.

This photo doesn’t really capture the mighty waves, but it gives you an idea.