Ecoguardian Changeover


  • Guy et Christine’s 8am weather report.
  • Visibility: 13 miles
  • Wind: 5-10 knots West
  • Sky: overcast
  • Water: 1′ chop

03-13 Waves


  • The elephant seal weaner was back on the grass between the buildings.
  • One juvenile male spent the day sleeping by the tower.
  • A second young male appeared in the afternoon and pestered the weaner.
  • I was pleased to spy several oystercatchers, a pair of harlequin ducks, two bald eagles, and a raven, amongst the usual seagulls, cormorants, and black turnstones.

03-13 Weaner and male


  • Guy, Christine, and Kyle gave me a tour of the facilities.
  • Various little changes here and there, but overall no massive differences.
  • Unpacked and settled in to the house.


  • Kyle and Second Nature brought me out around 12:30.
  • They departed at 1:20 with Guy et Christine.
  • 3 eco-tours came by in the afternoon.

03-13 Eco-tour 1 03-13 Eco-tour 2


  • Kyle


  • I am excited to be starting my fourth lengthy shift out at Race Rocks.
  • This is Riley Strother signing off and wishing you a goodnight!

Last Full Day of the Shift


  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 15-20 knots W, later 10 knots E, then 20 knots N
  • Sky: sunny in the morning, cloudy in the afternoon
  • Water: calm
  • Too cloudy to see the large moon tonight.


  • 3 elephant seals on Great Race.
  • The little female did not return with the others.
  • I observed two armadas of cormorants in the afternoon.
  • Then they all flew away!
  • Also one young seagull is wandering around with a broken wing.
  • I think it is the same gull that I saw a couple of weeks ago.


  • Added one 55 gallon barrel of diesel to the tidy tank.
  • Finished hauling the various unused pieces of the electric fence back to the tank shed.
  • Stacked some firewood.
  • Cleaned the house for Guy.
  • Published the July, August, September, and October seawater data sheets on the website.


  • One boat appeared to be inspecting the Rosedale Rock buoy.
  • Two eco-tours came by.


  • This is my last log post out at Race Rocks, until next time.
  • Hopefully I will be back out here in the springtime!
  • Signing off now. Good luck Guy (and Alex)!


A Return To Race Rocks

Ahoy, Riley Strother here. I have returned for another stint as eco-guardian here at Race Rocks!


  • Visibility: 15+ miles
  • Wind: up to 35 knots NW in the evening.
  • Sky: mostly clear
  • Water: small waves



  • The sea lions continue to roam about the island like a herd of cats.
  • Sea lion moulting time is a new experience for me.
  • I observed at least 4 elephant seals.


  • When I arrived Anne was running the desalinator. I shut it off later.
  • I was given a tour of the various changes to certain systems by Anne/Kyle.
  • Spent a few hours unpacking and settling back into the house.


  • At least 20 ecotours came by today. None of them seemed to cause any problems, though some were perhaps too close?
  • I overheard what sounded like a rather heated exchange on the radio, but the boats in question were outside the reserve.
  • Kyle came out in Second Nature to drop me off, pick up Anne and Alex, and to transport the chimney sweep fellows.

boat-1-26-9 boat-2-and-3-26-9


  • Kyle.
  • Two chimney sweepers came to sweep the chimneys in each house, as well as inspect and change the filters in the furnaces.

Chunk vs. Chuckles


  • Visibility: 15+ miles
  • Wind: 0 knots most of the day, until the evening when it hit 40 knots West
  • Sky: clear and sunny
  • Water: calm


  • 14 elephant seals on Great Race; 2 on Middle Rock.
  • Chunk and Chuckles engaged in friendly water battles for over an hour.
  • The tagged female elephant seal from California is still around.
  • The single odd looking seagull egg from May 29th has turned into 2 normal gull eggs.


  • Topped up the tidy tank with diesel.
  • Cleaned the solar panels.
  • General cleaning up.
  • Wrote the month end report.
  • Sent off the May seawater data.


  • At 12:30 there were 5 large eco-tours in the reserve at once. This might be too many at once?
  • What is quite probably the largest eco-tour I have ever seen came through Middle Channel today.


  • At least 7 DND blasts today.
  • They came at 9:46, 9:47, 9:48, 10:29, 10:29, 10:30, and at 11:03.
  • The first 6 were medium blasts; the last one was huge.
  • Usually we are notified ahead of time of blasting, but the most recent email only indicated blasting from June 1-3.
  • Today is the last full day of my shift. Guy and Christine will be taking over tomorrow.


Sunny Day Back on the Rock

Log Entry by Riley Strother


  • Visibility: 15+ miles
  • Sky: sunny
  • The mercury hit 11C today (which is over 50F!) so you know it was a warm day.


  • Spent 30 minutes in the morning chasing the Canada Geese off the island. I did so by walking around the perimeter of the island, and every time I completed a loop the original pair would have returned, necessitating a further loop to invariably chase away some other returned pair.
  • Eventually I only had to walk about once per hour to scare off any geese that had returned. By the evening there only remained one persistent pair near the Students’ House.
  • As Anne has noted, there are lots of gulls and they take to the sky at the slightest swoop of an eagle.
  • It looked to me as though there were 4 elephant seals hauled out on Middle Rock.
  • Several times today the sea lions seemed agitated by the boats that perhaps got a bit too close. They generally chose to bark rather than stampede though.
  • I saw the river otter in the afternoon, my favourite Race Rocks character. It’s good to be back. Thornton W. Burgess should write a book about him/her.
Agitated Sea Lions

Oft’ agitated Sea Lions


  • Cleaned the solar panels.
  • Settled back in to the house for my short stay.


  • As befits a beautiful statutory holiday, there were many boats about today.
  • Anne dropped me off in the Whaler in the morning.
  • Five eco-tours came through the reserve to look at the sea lions.
  • The Prince of Whales came by two times. The first time they appeared to be speeding through the SW part of the reserve to join up with the catamaran.
  • The large Eagle Wings catamaran came by twice.
  • An unidentified black eco-tour came by in the late afternoon.
  • One pleasure craft with a family on board passed through the South Channel, which is definitely too close to the sea lions.
  • Two fishing boats came by. The first one seemed too close to the sea lions. The second one appeared to be going too fast.
  • The Pacific Scout pilot vessel passed to the north of the reserve.
  • The Sir Wilfred Laurier patrol vessel passed to the south of the reserve.


  • Got a phone call from a wrong number; someone asking for Mike. That seems rather unusual.

March 26 – Census

Wind: 0-17 from varying directions throughout the day
Air Temperature: Low 9.2ºC, High 11.8ºC
Ocean Temperature: 9.0ºC

Today was spent preparing for the shift change. Anne Stewart will arriving tomorrow to take over as the Eco-Guardian.

There was one eco tour boat seen in the reserve today.

Here are the results of today’s megafauna census:
Steller Sea Lion: 58
California Sea Lion: 31
Harbour Seal: 79
Bald Eagle: 3
Cormorant: 16
Canada Goose: 24
Gull: 256
Crow: 2
Oystercatcher: 4
Pigeon Guillemot: 234
Surfbird: 8
Black Turnstone: 16
Savannah Sparrow: 1

March 2 – Shift Change

Wind 5-10 knots S to SW
Low 5oC
High 9oC

Two whale watching boats were seen in the ecological reserve.

Today was the shift change that saw Alex depart after being on for three months and Virginie for a month. It was a calm and glorious day to ferry the supplies and people back and forth to Race Rocks. Thank you Alex for all the great work you have done and the great shape you have left the place. I will be here until the end of March.

Shift Change?

The wind blew from the northeast between 17 and 27 knots. At 15:00, the wind died down a bit, blowing between 12 and 14 knots for several hours. The barometer dropped from 1014 hPa to 1008 hPa. The sky was clear, with some clouds in the south. Whitecaps rolled in from the northeast, calming down in the early afternoon. The temperature reached a high of 6.7oC at 15:00.

There was one whale watching boat seen in the reserve.

The winds, swell and tides combined to allow me to stay another day on the Rock. Between my time mopping the floors and tidying up inside the buildings, I observed sea lions through the binoculars. There were no branded or entangled sea lions observed. They all appear healthy. Many have moved on from Race Rocks, probably to go further up the west coast of Vancouver Island.  It will be interesting to see how many are still here. We will have to wait until tomorrow’s census to find out.

End of Shift

The wind blew from the northeast at 13-26 knots.  A small swell with whitecaps blew in from the northeast.  The barometer dropped from 1024 hPa to 1015 hPa.  The temperature reached a high of 5oC at 15:00.

There were no boats seen within the reserve today.

Everyday there appears to be fewer gulls and sea lions in the reserve.  An official count will happen on Thursday with the census.  There are still a lot of cormorants congregating on the shores of Great Race, as well as Turbine Rock and North Rocks.  The harbour seals are hauling out at low tides on various rocky ledges close to the shoreline.

Today was filled with cleaning and wrapping up some tasks that I’ve been doing while here for the past five weeks: construction in the basement of the Marine Science Centre, sorting out photos, and cutting up firewood that was collected at the shore and piled up by the tank house to get the salt rinsed off by the rain. Tomorrow is a shift change that will see Alex arrive for the winter shift.  I’ve had a great time as the Ecoguardian, learning lots from the species and history of this beautiful piece of land and sea.

Humpback Whales

The wind blew at about 15 knots from the northeast for the daylight hours.  A swell with small whitecaps from the northeast died down at noon. The barometer dropped slightly from 1031 to 1029 hPa.  The sky was clear all day.

There were six whale watching boats seen in the reserve today.  The only other boat was the Race Rocks boat making a round trip to Pedder Bay at noon, for an Ecoguardian switchover.

Over the weekend, Jeff completed the installation of the new composting toilet in the Ecoguardian’s house.  It’s a big step up from the humanure system that was in place before.  The new waterless system has a unit in the basement, directly below the toilet, that decomposes the human waste and only needs to be emptied once a year.  An identical unit is going to be installed in the Marine Science Centre, once some minor wall demolition happens to accommodate unit in the basement.

At 14:00, there were two or three humpback whales within a few hundred metres of the northeast of Great Race Rocks.  They made their way to the south, diving for five minutes at a time and then resurfacing.  Two whale watching boats remained with them for about 45 minutes, sometimes very close to the whales.