Last day for the student


On Saturday:West wind 6 knots at 8:00 was light the whole week end,overcast to sunny, visibility over 15 miles,pretty cold days :3degree celsius.sea calm.On Sunday:15 to 25 knots,North East wind,Sea:calm,Visibility over 13 miles,Air temperature:2 degrees celsius and water temperature  around 6.5.Cold week end.


For the first time the Elephant Seal pup went closed to the water and spend part of the Saturday at the top of the railway and the 2 other males were around ;the young one very closed and the adult one in the water at the jetty…



We had a boat very closed to the rocks which was .We saw him coming so he didn’t stay long . He saw the big camera and heard the Air horn! It left quickly towards Esquimalt…The other picture shows a watching boat way too closed!Many recreational fishing boats around east Sooke and on Sunday a RCMP boats spend half an hour doing exercises of navigation closed on south sideDSC_0065 DSC_0824

Illegal Fishing


  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 5-15 knots NE
  • Sky: overcast
  • Water: calm



  • Noted two branded California Sea Lions.
  • U503 and U400.
  • Saw many others with brands but unable to view complete brand.


  • Fixed the electric fence near the energy building which had been ripped apart again.
  • Reorganized some diesel barrels.
  • Cleaned the solar panels.
  • The usual chores.


  • It was neat to watch more than fifteen fishing boats head through Race Passage at 7:15 in the partial darkness of sunrise.
  • Two boats were fishing in the Rockfish Conservation Area, mostly between the Rosedale Rock and the South Islands for several hours today.
  • I identified them as best I could, and reported them to the DFO.
  • At times there were other boats nearby, but they seemed to be making a conscious effort to anchor outside the boundary.
  • The two offending boats made no such effort, drifting about all over the southern part of the reserve.
  • Several ecotours came by today.
  • In the evening one small aluminium boat ripped through the reserve well above the speed limit. Presumably he was late for supper?


  • From about 11:50 until 13:00 I felt a series of unidentifiable booming shakes.
  • I can only assume it was DND blasting, although I saw no smoke, and it was Sunday.
Levitating boat optical illusion.

Levitating boat optical illusion.

Pearson Students and Brands


  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 0-5 knots NE, later West
  • Sky: clear
  • Water: calm


  • Saw two branded California sea lions.
  • U400 and U714.
  • Discovered a couple of recently deceased juvenile sea gulls.
  • Cause of death unknown.


  • The usual chores.


  • Lots of ecotours today.
  • One appeared to be going over the speed limit within the edge of the reserve.
  • Several times there were at least 3 in the Middle Channel.
  • Kyle brought two loads of students out in Second Nature.
  • One small boat was observed fishing illegally within the Rockfish Conservation area.
  • They were reported to the DFO.


  • Kyle, Laura, 14 Pearson students, and 3 filmmakers came out.
  • The students were supposed to be doing wind and wave measurements, but Race Rocks was providing very little in that department today.


  • Six pair of small DND blastings today.
  • They took place early in the hour, every hour, from the 10th until the 15th.

Proficient Pearson Painters


  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 20-25 knots West
  • Sky: overcast, then sunny, then overcast
  • Water: 2′ chop


  • Much frenetic elephant seal activity throughout the island and surrounding waters.
  • The speed with which they go from slow motion sparring to sleeping side by side is adorable.
  • One seal was even snoozing on the ramp with his head under water.
  • Between 11 and 15 elephant seals on Great Race.
  • We discovered several seagull nests with eggs in them. First ones of the year!


  • The four of us engaged in much painting.
  • The boathouse floor was finished, along with the derrick room floor, and the yellow on the jetty.
  • In the afternoon we used the shorefront pressure washer to remove algae from several walls.
  • As is customary out here, we cleaned off the solar panels.


  • Kyle and Guy brought out the pressure washer and various other items at 8:10.
  • One rental boat was caught fishing illegally within the reserve.
  • I called Pedder Bay Marina to inform them.
  • One coast guard boat passed through the reserve today.
  • Also a few eco-tours.


  • Kyle and Guy briefly to drop off items.
  • In the late afternoon, Maya, Tazi, and Ali came over to the eco-guardians house for tea, cookies, and the American version of Rubber Soul.

I Dream of Electric Fences


Foggy morning, building throughout the day with poor visibility in parts (the fog horn sounded). Winds from the NNE to 15kts. The barometer climbed to 101.8 kPa. Forecast for light winds overnight and into the morning.

Boat activity

  • Fishing vessel spotted with lines in the water within the reserve.
  • Four tour boats, after the fog faded.

Ecological happenings

  • There appeared to be more Sea Lions today, or they are just more rowdy.
  • Continued looking for tangled Sea Lions in preparation for DFO visit on Oct 28th.
  • Spotted a flock of fifteen Black Turnstones.


  • Once again, Sea Lions continue to make their way onto the jetty by knocking the electric fence over. This time they have actually broken it, too. A daily battle

March 16 – Camera, Crane and Coruscating Sun

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 Race Pushes out Illegal Fishers

The day started and ended beautiful and clear, with thick fog coming and going, in between. The westerly winds were unabated and are still gusting over 25 knots as I write this at 21:30. The barometer ended up a little lower than it started with a few ups and downs. It looks like more of the same for tomorrow.

There were only three tour boats noted today and they were following Bigg’s Killer Whales to the west. With lots of Southern Resident Killer Whales, in the Gulf Islands that is probably where the main fleet was working today.

There was another Pedder Bay Marina rental boat with three male Asians fishing illegally in the Rockfish Conservation area today but by the time I tried to hail them on the radio and find the number for DFO Observe, Record, Report, the tidal flow had booted them out of the reserve. They tried again but were repulsed again by the mighty Race. Go tide. I also watched a small, skillfully sailed vessel virtually fly through with full sails and the westerly astern plus a big flood tide whipping him along.

Moving the 100 lb. propane tanks yesterday bugged my knee so I had a slow day today and learned how to use the camera (a little). Here is a photo requested by the Eco-Reserve Warden, Garry Fletcher. He asked for a photo with sea lions in the foreground and a ship in the background. Voila. (Okay, next time the horizon will be level.)

Seals and Sea Lions in the foreground, ship in the background.

Seals and Sea LIons in the foreground, ship in the background.

There are still a few technical details to figure out on how to make an electric fence to keep the big sea lions from leaning their way into the basement of the Science House. I am trying to train them to stay off the house by tapping two rocks together but they are not easily intimidated and some of them are downright ornery.

Fog and sunshine

There was a tiny bit of rain with fog early today and then it switched back to near gale westerlies with heavy fog interspersed with sunshine. It is a beautiful starlight evening and the westerly continues to drop. The barometer held fairly steady today with a slight increase this evening. Environment Canada says that a strong westerly wind warning stays in effect for Sunday with a chance of showers.

There were ten whale watching boats in the Reserve today and they were all well behaved. A dive charter boat with eleven divers aboard came through the reserve but I am not sure where they dove.

Two male kayakers , one in a green kayak and the other in a reddish-brown kayak came through the passage on the south side of Great Race in the early afternoon and caused a sea lion stampede. They then proceeded to fish right in the closed conservation area. There were also two recreational boats fishing in the marine protected area.

A few more sea lion brands were observed today including one seven year-old female Steller’s Sea Lion that was branded as a pup in 2007 at Rogue Reef , near Gold Beach in southern Oregon.

This was my first day to not see Elephant Seals and California Sea Lions have taken over the jetty and marine railway. Some of them are a bit scary looking and do not want to move so that I can do seawater data collection.

Three River Otters were out and about in daylight today. Usually you don’t see them and just guess that they are around in the evening as all the gulls lift off and call. There were two young, very healthy-looking animals with an adult. Maybe that it why there are so many Glaucous-winged gull chick mortalities here? (Just a guess.)

Alex was quite excited to see some of the old lighthouse artifacts including parts of an old Fairbanks-Morris engine. He also pointed out where the old granite light-keepers house had been removed from its attachment to the base of the light tower.

The tasks today were the basic, regular tasks of  cleaning the solar panels, running the generator, launching and bringing the boat back up in order to drop off Alex, repairing the jetty fence (twice) and taking the salinity measurement. Tomorrow is month-end report time.



Orcas, Weaner

Weather has continued to be cold, dipping below zero degrees. Wind has persisted all week NE-E generally over 20 NMPH. Clouds have settled in over the past couple days so it is feeling a bit warmer, forecast for flurries today/this evening.

We were able to get off the island Friday morning for a quick run for provisions. By the time we came back out around noon there were already 3 foot Easterly swells picking up.

Yesterday a pod of around 10 orcas passed by on the West side of Race Rocks heading NE towards Victoria. A group of Pearson divers got to see them from Second Nature on their way for a dive at Swordfish Island.

Bertha left Friday night or early morning Saturday. The young male from middle rock was in the jetty Saturday morning, first time i have seen him on the main island. Chunk has seemed a bit restless. He made his way around the south side of the Science house yesterday and over to main house. He saw the young male in the jetty and chased him into the rocks on the W side of jetty. Chunk went into the water and waited around the jetty, a bit of a standoff. Eventually young fellow made it into the water and I saw Chunk coming back up the ramp around dusk. He seems very uninterested in the pup which is quite different from two years ago when Misery chased and bit Squall all the time. The pup hasn’t moved much and is sleeping a lot.

Feb 8: 2 ecotour vessels in reserve. One vessel caused a disturbance of sea lions on East rocks.
Feb 9: float plane flew over. Sports fishing boat entered reserve in afternoon and was fishing in reserve. I tried contacting them on the VHF radio but they did not respond, I waved at them but they kept on fishing. They didn’t stay long and left for Pedder Bay so I called the marina and reported the incident. The staff person on duty at the marina spoke with the 3 individuals who were apparently not aware of the fishing ban. We have photos and their ID info on record and will report them to DFO if they repeat their offence. Thanks once again to Pedder Bay Marina and their staff for their cooperation and support!

-picked up parts for plumbing drain in main house, bar oil for chainsaw
-cut, chopped, stacked wood
-worked on wiring in station boat, attaching new running light
-shore-master for Pearson divers Sat afternoon
-worked on drain plumbing in main house

Recent marine traffic in the reserve

Marine traffic in the reserve over the past month has increased mainly with a rise in visiting whale watchers. On days of good weather there have been as many as two dozen whale watching boats pass through the reserve. However on days like today when the wind has averaged around 30 knots, or yesterday when there was fog until late afternoon, only one boat toured through.

Illegal fishing on reserve

Whale watching boats usually abide by the rules of the reserve by not speeding and being respectful of marine mammals. But this week there were two boating infractions by private boaters. Fishing in the reserve is not permitted. Two boat renters from Pedder Bay marina, despite being reminded by marina owners of the regulations, were fishing off the southwest side of the main island.

Speeding in the reserve

The speed limit in the reserve is 7 knots. This white zodiac, right, sped through the reserve last week at about 15 to 20 knots. The reason for the speed limit is to create as little disturbance for the marine mammals as possible. When boats speed through the harbour seals in particular react by fleeing to the water.