Whale Sighting!

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 10-15 knots West, later 5 knots South, then 5-10 West
  • Sky: clear and sunny!
  • Water: rippled

Ecological

  • Census day!
  • Shortly before 15:30 as I was counting shorebirds, I heard a loud noise to my right. Glancing over, I was thrilled to see a whale surfacing in the South Channel. I managed to get some photos as it resurfaced farther south-west.
  1. California Sea Lions: 79
  2. Harbour Seals: 69
  3. Steller (Northern) Sea Lions: 33
  4. Elephant Seals: 3, all on Great Race, 2 young males, 1 weaner
  5. Whale: 1 (I think it was an Orca)
  6. Seagulls unspecified: 269
  7. Pigeon Guillemots: 45
  8. Cormorants unspecified: 30
  9. Double Crested Cormorants: 9
  10. Surfbirds: 37
  11. Harlequin Ducks: 27 (15 males and 12 females)
  12. Canada Geese: 24
  13. Black Turnstones: 20
  14. Bald Eagles: 20 (4 adults, 16 immature)
  15. Black Oystercatchers: 6
  16. Rock Sandpipers: 4
  17. Crows: 3

Boats

  • A few eco-tours passed by today.
  • Second Nature came out with food supplies for me.
  • A large navy sailboat passed by north of the reserve.

Visitors

  • Kyle and Jeff came out in Second Nature.

Other

  • One helicopter flew just south of the reserve in the morning.

Fog ‘n Whales

Weather

  • Visibility: ranging between 0 and 15+ miles today.
  • Wind: 0-5 knots, at various times from the N, S, or W.
  • Sky: cloudy and often very foggy.
  • Water: calm.

Ecological

  • At least 3 orcas swam along the edge of the reserve from West Rock towards the North Rocks this afternoon.
  • They were followed by several boats.
  • Noticed a few elephant seals mingling with the sea lions near the energy building and on the ramp.

Maintenance

  • Reset the electric fence in the morning.
  • Cleaned the solar panels.
  • The usual stuff like toilet maintenance, sea water sample, and generator.

Boats

  • When it wasn’t foggy there were several ecotours in the reserve today.
  • Several times there were three boats quite close together viewing the sea lions.
  • At times I wondered if perhaps some of the ecotours were both technically in the reserve (not allowed when whales are present) and too close to the whales (see above photos).

Other

  • Three pairs of DND blasting today.
  • 11:47 and 11:49.
  • 1:28 and 1:30.
  • 2:24 and 2:26.
  • The Fog Horn was active much of the night and often throughout the day.

Recreational Rush Hour

Weather and Sea Conditions

Winds: Light and variable; Sky: Morning periods of fog, afternoon low overcast, evening periods of rain; Visibility: Mostly good ~10 nm, except in fog; Barometer: 102.8 kPa and dropping Saturday evening; Forecast: Wind light becoming easterly 5 to 15 knots Sunday morning.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Whale watching vessels: 20 visits were observed in Ecological Reserve (ER).

One commercial dive operator was noted in ER today. This vessel was within 10 meters (or less) from hauled out sea lions, had divers in the water in Middle Channel when there was a lot of traffic including speeding sports fishing charter boats, recreational boaters who had to be waved off and whale watching vessels. The dive flags wre both located low and on the side away from other traffic. The dive operator was also observed speeding through the ER, on departure.

Sport fishing vessels: Total 13 observed in ER. Seven of these were observed speeding through the ER in areas with high concentrations of animals (and human divers) in the water. Three charter vessels were noted in the ER today, one was speeding. Another 10 recreational vessels were noted including three rental boats speeding and three others speeding through the ER. One rental vessel was reported (to the owners) as fishing in the closed area which is a Rockfish Conservation Area. Photos were taken, processed and filed.

Ecology  Humpback Whales were observed feeding about 1nm south of the ER today. Resident Killer Whales were also reported feeding in Central Juan de Fuca today, further out. Biggs (Transient) Killer Whales were active in Race Passage and environs today. They were not observed in the ER but entered Eemdyk Passage and reportedly made a kill at the eastern entrance. Whale watching vessels that crowded in, were observed backing out ihastily as the whales came out and around Rocky Point. More Sea Lion brands were photo-documented (see gallery). This information feeds into research done by Dr. Pat Gearin of the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric (NOAA) research on the population abundance and trends, and the distribution and movement of both species of sea lions.

Visitors  None.

Maintenance and Operations  Regular chores.Made three boxes of kindling. Adjusted screen door.  Ace status achieved quickly on fly patrol.

 

Pearson Students Have a Whale of a Time

Weather and Sea Conditions Winds: Winds were variable swinging all the way around the compass starting with east-southeast at 10 -15 knots in the early morning. It backed through northeast and northwest then to light west southwest by early afternoon. By late afternoon it had passed through southeast again still turning counterclockwise to northeast. Sky: Heavy overcast with showers in the morning then partially clearing. Afternoon sunny. Visibility: Mostly good 15 nm, except in fog. Barometer: 101.4 kPa rising Friday afternoon Forecast: Winds westerly 10 to 20 late this afternoon then diminishing to light after midnight. Periods of rain ending this evening.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve Whale watching vessels: Fourteen were observed working in Ecological Reserve (ER). One of the whale watchers sped into the ER while there were Killer Whales in Middle Channel. Contact was made by VHF radio and they left slowly without responding on the VHF. Later three whale watching vessels were “herding” the killer whales around and inside Rosedale. By rushing ahead of the whales and placing themselves in their path and by “squeezing” the whales in towards the shore of the ER, two of the vessels put themselves into positions where they were observed backing in reverse into the wind and waves and away from the killer whales. After this, we noted that one adult male killer whale was breaching very close to the two zodiacs. Two much larger whale watching vessels were observed using a similar tactic with a Humpback Whale mid afternoon. No other commercial operators, noted in ER today. Sport fishing vessels: Two noted in ER today travelling reasonably slowly through Middle Channel.

Ecology: Six to seven Killer Whales graced Race Rocks Ecological Reserve with their presence today. The group was made up of one large male, one slightly smaller male with a nick on his dorsal fin about a third of the way up, one small and one very small individual and two or three females, one with a nick on her dorsal fin. Photos are out with a query to confirm their identification. These animals swam over directly from Church Point late morning and came in and out of the ER at least three times. They were also observed going into the entrance of Pedder Bay and through Eemdyk Passage behind Bentink Island.  Two Humpback Whales, one large and one small were observed feeding about one mile south of the ER and one Humpback was “chased” into the ER by whale watching boats. Five young Northern Elephant Seals came ashore and spent the afternoon sleeping over by the energy building. Two adult Bald Eagles were seen in the ER today, causing the gulls to flock off with every pass. A high abundance of Moon Jellies was observed in the plankton over the last few days and sea surface temperature has dropped to ~10oC with fairly high (for here) salinity of 32.2 ppt.

Sustainability: Sustainability is not just about washing the windows with an eco-friendly product, it also means engaging young people with the natural environment and in particular with the ocean. The ocean has been called the blue elephant in the classroom, as it is a very large presence on our blue planet that is not included well in curriculum. Pearson College is making a difference to ocean literacy with their Marine Science programming and today new marine scientists were inspired to care for the ocean for future generations.

Visitors: Laura Verhegge and two Marine Science classes came on learning field trips to Race Rocks today. Kyle transported everyone aboard Second Nature including distinguished guest, Felix Butschek. Felix is on a yearlong tour around the world as a Rolex Scholar with the Our World – Underwater Scholarship Society in Europe. Felix is a Pearson College alumnus who studied Marine Science with Laura, was active in the Pearson diving program and is now a promising young marine scientist with a serious passion for remote polar seas. It was nice to welcome Felix back to Race Rocks and see him inspiring the first year students during their fun biodiversity explorations and observations. The second class enjoyed observing Killer Whales swim right in front of us as we stood on the rock watching.

Maintenance and Operations: Regular chores. Both fences repaired. Windows washed in Eco-guardian house.

 

Pearson College Rocks.

Weather and Sea Conditions

Winds: Up to 30 knots, west-northwest

Sky: Clear with patches of heavy fog in the morning.

Visibility: Mostly good 15 nm, except in fog.

Barometer: 101.5 falling Wednesday evening

Forecast: Wind dropping tonight and then switching and increasing to east 10 to 20 late overnight and to west 20 to 30 knots Friday afternoon. Rain overnight and Friday morning. Chance of showers Friday evening. Strong wind warning in effect.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Whale watching vessels: Two were observed working in Ecological Reserve (ER) both moving carefully in the fog. No other commercial operators, noted in ER today.

Sport fishing vessels: Two noted in Reserve today: one observed fishing in ER and the other sped through ER not slowing even through Middle Channel where there were hundreds of animals in the water.

Ecology  The islands within the ER are receiving enormous amounts of biogenic material daily from resting pinnipeds and birds. Although the guano accumulated in the summer drought has been partially washed away by recent rains, nitrogen loading is significant in this biological hot-spot along with accumulation of sea lion hair and gull feathers from the moulting animals. There are also daily additions to the hard remnants from predation events, which include shell, bone, teeth, scales and exoskeletons. Vegetation in the sea lion haul-out areas has been removed by trampling now and levels of faeces and urine are very ‘high’.

The waters around the ER continue to support feeding Humpback Whales daily and large multi-species feeding flocks. Three Humpback Whales were observed today on the west and south sides in and adjacent to ER. Most of the big flocks close to the islands are multiple species of gulls, dominated by Glaucous-winged Gulls.

Thayer’s Gulls arrived late today and a large flock was observed preening and resting on the southwest side of the island at sunset. These Thayer’s gulls have flown in to winter on the Pacific coast, from Canada’s high arctic where they nest.

A single male Killer Whale was observed during the early evening feeding in the mouth of Pedder Bay near the Navy Buoy.

Sustainability   Inverter frames re-screwed.

Visitors   A first year biology class from Pearson College visited today with their teacher Emily and conducted inter-tidal population studies in tidal pools. Two Pearson College volunteers also came along. Kyle transported everyone in two trips on Second Nature.

Maintenance and Operations  Both fences repaired. Discussed temporary roof patches (March) on storm damaged roofs, (boat shed, tank shed and derrick house) with Kyle. Noted foghorn not operating consistently during fog events.

 

Weather’s Fine

Weather and Sea Conditions

Winds: 5 – 15 knots, west-southwest

Sky: Clear

Visibility: Good 15 nm

Barometer: 101.5 falling Wednesday evening

Forecast: Wind increasing to westerly 5 to 15 near noon Thursday and to westerly 15 to 25 Thursday afternoon. Strong wind warning in effect.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Whale watching vessels: Fifteen observed working in Ecological Reserve (ER)

No other commercial operators, noted in Reserve today.

Sport fishing vessels: Five noted in Reserve today. None observed fishing in ER. One sport boat speeding through ER. One open run-about with a windshield was seen chasing a Humpback Whale and hopscotching with it in order to position itself in front of whale’s path.

Animal Census

Steller Sea Lion 429

California Sea Lion 402

Harbour Seal 133

Northern Elephant Seal 6 (3 of those on Great Race)

Sea Otter 1 (seen during week)

River Otter 0, (no evidence seen either)

Bigg’s (Transient) Killer Whale 6 (just outside ER)

Dall’s Porpoise 3 (seen during week just outside ER)

Harbour Porpoise 2 (seen during week just outside ER)

Humpback Whale 1 (3 during count week adjacent to ER)

Canada Goose 24

Cackling Goose 1

Harlequin Duck 0

Double-crested Cormorant 4

Pelagic Cormorant 11

Brandt’s Cormorant 39

Bald Eagle1 (seen during week)

Black Oystercatcher 22

Black Turnstone 17

Surfbirds 9

Ruddy Turnstone 1 (seen during week)

Sanderling 2

Western Sandpiper 5

Kildeer 3

Glaucous-winged Gull 1274

California Gull 83

Herring Gull 1

Heerman’s Gull 5

Gull spp. 328

Savannah Sparrow 23

Sustainability

Made fresh water using solar power to energize de-salinator.

Visitors None

Maintenance and Operations

Weather station back on-line after three months off. Fence maintenance, good for a few hours ; – )

 

Strange Cloud

 

Weather and Sea Conditions

Westerlies 10 – 20 knots

Partly overcast

Visibility good

Sea condition – calm

Showers distant, strange clouds

Forecast light winds and showers

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Whale watching vessels observed working in Ecological Reserve – 20

Other commercial operators – none observed

Sports fishing boats observed in reserve 7 (none fishing in Reserve)

RCM-SAR RHI crossed ER at high speed

One Whale Watcher sped in ER (19 out of 20 okay)

Ecology (see photos)

Sea lion photo-documentation of brands and tags

Resting Shorebirds

Late fledging GwGu chicks

Six Bigg’s Killer Whales feeding in kelp beds off Rocky Point, travelling slowly westward late in afternoon (Reported to Cetacean Sightings, no photos)

Sustainability

Rainwater used for scrubbing

Composting toilet maintenance

Visitors

None

Maintenance and Operations

Chainsaw chain filed (badly rocked but still more than half a chain left after extensive filing)

Axe wire brushed rust, filed the bevel, waxed (anti-rust treatment) (see photos)

Other regular, daily chores

 

 

Windy Monday

Weather

The wind picked up to 30 knots in the middle of the night and was still 32 knots  at 5:00AM and 38 at 7:30 . The visibility was over 15 miles ,clear sky ,white caps on the sea.

Ecological

 

The Sea lions stayed late in the morning in ,what I call the dormitory ,in fact a patch of land among the rocks. We were lucky enough to spot for the first time a few orcas closed to the shore behind the guest house. Many black turnstone  in the rocks and sea lions closer and closerDSC_0003DSC_0173DSC_0262DSC_0371

Maintenance

Guy repaired the lock of the bedroom window . He changed the filter of the generator 2.and drilled and fixed a support. Everything is now working except an oil leak because of too old hoses . New ones has been ordered.

Other

The video Aziz Sowannella took on the rock is now online (Youtube ) . Thanks to him . It’s as beautiful as the place.  He got the feeling of the rocks around the clock. Nice job!

Electrician on the Rock

Weather

We had for a few days the last perfect Summer days: no wind ,mirror sea and heat…

Ecological

For the first time we saw 2 orcas in the passage . It was like a dream and ironically all the watching boats were outside and we were the only ones to enjoy.DSC_0502DSC_0500We did!

Hungry not anymore baby gulls! No Elephant seals .

Other

The number of watching boats this sunny days is insane !So many and all at the same time .too closed ,too fast and too noisy (engines). too often disturbing! An helicopter was above very noisy too and the birds were afraid.We had a plane above.DSC_0553DSC_0549

A visitor : an electrician 

He came to double check the electrical system on the rock. Even if the old system is running pretty well a brand new generator would be  a good solution for more efficiency.We learn a few things : The generator should work around 12 hours in a raw every 10 days even in Summer time. We would need a high voltage for 12 hours to activate correctly the mixture . The sulfuric acid  stays down and the water up and that means corrosion …If high voltage were sent for 12 hours or even more the batteries could be charged at 80 %. Right now they are charged at the best to 40-50%.The solar panels are not enough efficient because of the big and numerous batteries. Even the shadow of a pipe on the panel have an incidence on the production. The second generator is not working right now . We will make it work next week with new filters.this one produce 25AMPS instead of just 15AMPS for the first one in use presently.