Sealions return

Hello all, I realise that it has been a little while since I last wrote in the daily log. Things have been busy. Ocean Educations, a three week summer diving program at Pearson College just finished this week and I’ve been busy with that, as well as keeping a German film crew of four from German public TV busy -you may have noticed Tom, Christian, Florian and Michael on the Island this week). They were busy shooting two documentaries at Race Rocks. They left this morning and I’m pleased to say that they acquired some stunning footage, above and below the water, during their stay. Things have quieted down a bit now though, so I hope to be a bit more regular in my entries for these last few weeks of my stationing at Race. Many of you will be pleased to hear that camera 5 has been repaired. Apparently there was a problem in the electrical board inside. I have it on the Island and am planning on re-installing on its mount tomorrow. If all goes to plan, it should be up and running by tomorrow afternoon. Over the last week or so, the sea lions have made quite a return. I ‘d estimate that there are probably around 100 individuals in the Reserve right now, with an equal split between northern sea lions and California sea lions. Their numbers will continue to grow as the summer draws slowly to a close. Slash is still hauled up on Great Race these days, as always. I’ve not seen Misery for a while now, although it ”s possible he’s out on Middle Rock as I saw a couple of elephant seals out there a few days ago. I suspect that Misery got a bit sick of Slash and decided to seek out some peace and quiet. There was also a mature female here for a few days late last week and early this week, but she has since left. The gull chicks are now getting quite large. Many have started to fledge and are beginning to ”test their wings ”. I ‘ve not seen any in the air yet, although I ”ve seen many flapping their limbs energetically as they try to see how their wings work! This week I also found quite a large number of dead and/or injured chicks. I think they are often attacked by other adults from outside their territory. There is actually a chick right outside my basement door that has been there for four days now; my best guess is that it wandered or ran off far from the nest then couldn ‘t find its way back. On the third day -yesterday), I woke up to find it with a broken wing. It ”s quite sad to see it huddling in the damp grass with a broken wing, while a couple of metres away, a mother feeds her three healthy chicks. Quite a stark division. I expect this chick will soon die from starvation or predation. I saw the otter several times this week. I haven ”t seen as many eagles around this week as I have in previous weeks. I ”ll keep you updated to this poor little gull over the next few days. That ”s all for now. Adam’, ’21:20:54 ,

Harbour seal pups

Misery and Slash are still co-habitating on the Island these days, although Slash is definitely filling the alpha male role. It ”s quite interesting, as Misery is very aware that he is not the dominant one and may often be observed scooting down a path or taking the long way into the water in order to avoid a confrontation with Slash. More and more seagull nests are hatching every day. This week I ‘ve been noticing two or three per day. The ones that hatched first are now getting quite big! There are still oystercatcher babies over by the jetty, and they too are getting large. Along the baby line, I ”ve been noticing a number of baby harbour seals around the rocks. We ”re in prime pupping season for them now.’, ‘adam’, ’22:13:15 ,

Elephant Seal pup on Middle Rocks, 2010

Elephant Seal pup on Middle Rocks, January 21, 2010.

Pup on Middle Rocks, with mother, placenta and bald eagle. Photo by Ryan Murphy

January 21, 2010: Today a new elephant seal pup was born on Middle Island Rock at Race Rocks. Follow the story below as we track what happens to this new pup.
elephant seal birth at Race Rocks elephant seal birth at Race Rocks elephant seal birth at Race Rocks
Early in the morning, Pam Birley, viewing on the remote camera 5 from England spotted a newly arrived pup on Middle Island Rock at Race Rocks. She sent the image above and the following message: “Looks like Slash is a Dad again !!!! He is there on middle rock with two females and….a pup.  I waited until I saw it move to be sure before I told you.   You can see it just behind Slash in front of the female.”
Ryan was able to get the following pictures with his telephoto lens from Great Race Rock Island. Above is the complete image from the title picture. Two females and Slash the old male who has been at Race Rocks for several years now are on the island. Ryan reports that Slash had been on the main island the last few weeks (see the daily log reports) He has been trumpeting and then yesterday left and moved out to Middle Rock
elephant seal birth at Race Rocks elephant seal birth at Race Rocks elephant seal birth at Race Rocks
“Yesterday we got Camera 3 back broadcasting and at dark yesterday Slash was out there by himself.  Amazing that these two females showed up and one of them gave birth in such a short time period.” “For reference,Ninene was born the morning of February 1 last year.  The new little one appears to be doing well, though a good storm it could be washed away like the other pups born there last year.  This if the fourth birth observed here at Race Rocks.  Looks like a boy to me.” Jan 21, 2010 Check out other pictures Ryan has taken of Elephant seals on his Flickr Set.
elephant seal pup elephant seal pup
Jan. 22/10 1600 hrs the pup was spotted in the late afternoon. Closeup of next picture Jan 22. 1600 hrs.This was possibly the last this pup was sighted as there were large swells that night at high tide. Jan 23 . 1530 hrs. From remote camera 5, Garry took this composite set of a pup with the group.
February 1, 2010 0900 hrs. Another pup was sighted by Ryan over the top edge of the island, out of view of camera 5 .Possibly Scarlet’s

See the pups born on Middle Rocks in 2009

See the Elephant seal taxonomy and Gallery Index.

Slash and Misery conflicts

‘2010-01-17’, ‘Elephant Seal’, 4, ‘Both Slash and Misery have been hauled out on Great Race Island this past week. Misery prefers to take the higher ground to keep a strategic advantage against any of Slash ”s aggression. Misery has new bite wounds on his flank, though nothing like what Slash inflicted on him in the spring. Slash has a small cut on his nare and a small puncture wound on his hood/trunk. Pam Birley has captured and shared some photos on her flickr site which depict one of their territorial disputes in action! Both males trumpet -gurgle-burp) throughout the day, but most often at night. Neither male visibly responds to the other ”s calls. A small female has been seen frequently hauled out in the small cove formed by the gut on the South side of the island. She is much too small to mate or to climb from there up onto the rest of the island. Misery has been spending a lot of his time lounging around the Energy Centre, about 10m from the small female. Slash left here last night to join a large adult female on Middle Rock. I do not know if she is one of the three identifiable adult females who have visited Great Race Island this year, though she is the best candidate for another baby so far this season.’, ‘Ryan’, ’12:34:44 ,

Elephant seal numbers

-2009-12-30 ‘Elephant Seal’, 4, ‘A more or less constant number of elephant seals in the reserve this past week. Both our adult and sub-adult males -Slash and Misery) have been spending most of their time on Great Race Island. Misery has been napping near the lighthouse for most of the week while Slash has been moving around Great Race Island and going back and forth between here and Middle Rocks where two or three females are hauled out.’, ‘Ryan’, ’08:23:02

Peregrine observed

‘Two peregrine falcons were observed at the reserve today. One had taken position near on the lighthouse itself and its territorial calls first alerted me to its presence. Another bird had perched on the rocks to the SE of Great Race Island. No hunting was observed.’Ryan’, ’15:52:00 ,
‘Slash has been making short trips into the water and over to Middle Rocks but remains mostly hauled out here at Great Race Island. Two adult cow elephant seals are on Middle Rocks today, and a third female is here on the E side of the main island.’, ‘Ryan’, ’15:53:05 ,

Seagull chicks starting to lift off ground

The baby elephant seal is present outside the concrete pad again today. Its back is covered in small wounds and every move it takes seems to be an effort. It spent all day sleeping beside the jetty. Wondering if it is sick or in poor health..The number of sea lions (both stellar and California) is growing daily. Most are hauled out on the NE corner of Gr. Race and on Middle Rock. Some are also on the southern rocks as well. A flock of four Canada Geese was present on the island for a few hours this morning. Seagull chicks are still growing, with many spreading their wings and starting to lift off from the ground. Carcasses in various stages of decomposition have been found scattered across the island this week, with two new ones beside the cistern spotted yesterday. Slash has not been seen for a week now. A number of infractions from recreational boats occurred today, including viewing animals from less than 100 metres, fishing and traveling at speeds greater than 7 kts. Recreational boaters are reminded that violation of the Marine Mammal Regulations (rev. 2006) may constitute a fine up to $100 000. Adam, 21:25:22

First Elephant Seal born at Race Rocks: January, 2009

First baby Elephant seal

First baby Elephant seal born on Race Rocks


jan30mombabe Ninene nursing on mother elephant seal Bertha.


Misery, probably not the father, Bertha and Ninene in the first days

Ryan has observed a lot of aggression on the part of the young male which had previously been named Misery by Mike Slater.


Initially a healthy female baby and mother.

The baby was born beside the helicopter pad, and has spent the first day there, trying to nurse. The interference by the aggressive male has made this difficult.

January 30, 2009: This is what we believe is the first elephant seal pup to be born at Race Rocks. It arrived last night or early this morning. See the daily log also for updates. Ryan and Adam have dubbed the pup NINENE, after the WSANEC (Saanich people) moon that it was born under, meaning, child or offspring


Adam Harding took this video at close range from the top of the helipad.The second one was taken on the morning of February 1 from inside of the Marine Centre on Great Race Rocks

In the weeks that followed, Nine went through a  In the month following the birth, the pup Ninene, which Ryan observed was a female , went through an incredible amount of trauma while being attacked viciously by the young male Misery. Here we document the process. It is not a pleasant site and at the time of writing, it is still not certain whether this pup will survive. After 4 weeks, weaning took place and the mother left permanently. On the California pupping beaches, the pups normally stay on the pupping grounds often guarded by a male for 5 to 8 weeks longer, without feeding. Then they get hungry and go to the water to feed on their own in shallow protected water . If Ninene makes it that far it will be quite exceptional. Caution: may not be suitable for children.

bruisepup bite
Bruises showing on the pup. Male grasping the pup

Elephant Seal Male Aggression Videos

The trauma of her first four weeks when she was nursing were minor compared to what happened when her mother left and she was weaned. The young male we have called “Misery” turned on Ninene and beat up on her severely, so much that we considered she was very close to death. Ultimately she was saved by Slash, our old elephant seal, possibly her father, who took on the young male. The following images are not the worst of what we had to watch while this drama unfolded.

Misery, juvenile elephant seal Ninene recovering Ninene recovering
This photo was taken on March 3, a few days later the mother had left the island leaving Ninene alone to be weaned. Ninene had moved to the other side
of the engine room.
She was looking fairly good, with evident weight gain from 4 weeks of nursing.
(photos by Garry Fletcher)

Misery, juvenile elephant seal

Misery on the lawn photo by Raisa

Misery, juvenile elephant seal

After the female left, Misery was relentless in his attacks on Ninene. His throat red with Ninene’s blood the next morning.

elephant seal injured

Ninene the next day in critical condition.

Misery, juvenile elephant seal

After the second night after the female left, Misery returned to the island with three large sets of puncture wounds.

Misery, juvenile elephant seal

He laid low for a few days on the lawn below the flagpole. Presumably the wounds were from the only other male around–Slash.

Misery, juvenile elephant seal

Presumably the wounds were from the only other male around, Slash. When he returned to the island Misery soon left for good.

elephant seal injured

Ninene retreats to the rocks on the south west corner of the island.

Ninene injured

March — shortly after the beating, Ninene was coated in dried blood

Ninene recovering

Recuperation took place out on the south west shore, well away from the centre of the island.

Ninene recovering

March 5. Ninene is spending her time with her serious injuries out on the South west corner

Ninene recovering

March 5, 2009. Its hard to imagine how she can recover from these injuries.

Ninene recovering

By the tidepools on the south west corner

Ninene recovering

March 9, Her condition is improving.

Ninene tail wound

Injuries near the base of Nine’s tail from Misery’s rough treatment.

Slash on lawn

March 5 2009, Slash has driven off Misery and is now lounging on the lawn .

Slash on lawn

March 5, Slash has taken over the place on the lawn where Misery was located .

Slash on lawn

Battle scars on Slash. While on the island with Ninene, he never paid any attention to her.

ottom of Misery

The bottom of Slash! We have a feeling that Slash was the father of Ninene, as he is the only one we have seen breeding there over the past few years.

Ninene, elephant seal pup

The large white cluster behind her deep neck wound was a large boil, possibly from infection or a parasite, that burst after a few days

Ninene, elephant seal pup

In the last week of March, she made her first trip down to the docks and then went back across the island to stay a few days near the tower.

Ninene, elephant seal pup

March 25, 2009 the scar on her back is gradually returning to normal.

Ninene, elephant seal pup

March 9th, Ninene down on the boat ramp. She is spending more time in the water now as she tests out the environemtn, having to learn everything on her own.


On April 2, 2009, Ryan sent the following e-mail: “I haven’t seen the elephant seal pup for a couple of days, and I suspect she got into the water on the east side of the island the night of March 30. If she’s seen again I’m sure her neck scar will be a good identifier.


A total of 8 weeks had passed since her birth, and 4 weeks since weening. She had a rough start but hopefully will now be able to survive in her own.”

in the USA

Ninene in the USA

On April 7 we were forwarded an e-mail from Dyanna Lambourn, a Marine Mammal Research Biologist, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in Lakewood, WA with this picture by Duane Benedict of the Port Angeles Police Department of a Northern Elephant Seal pup that showed up in Port Angeles on April 2nd. She indicates “I suspect it is probably the pup from Race Rocks… I went to the Race Rocks website and it appears that “NINENE” left around that same time. The pup is hauled out in downtown Port Angeles and the plan is to relocate her to the tip of Edis Hook on US Coast Guard Property today. Hopefully the pup will also be tagged.”

Link:Ninene turns up in down-town Port Angeles in the next few weeks.

Ninene turns up in down-town Port Angeles in the next few weeks.



The article “Beached elephant seal moved to Ediz Hookalso appeared today in the Penninsula Daily News





Link:She is tagged with red tags and then released back at the waterfront

She is tagged with red tags and then released back at the waterfront


 Seal pup likely “Canadian born” now she’s missing in the Penninsula Daily News, Port Angeles.





Link: The last we see of Ninene with the red tags is on Taylor Beach. Scars healing on her neck. And then on April 15, 2009, she returns to our shores. The last we see of Ninene with the red tags is on Taylor Beach.




Winter for Slash:2008

A wintery day at Race Rocks and Ryan takes a few pictures of Slash

See other pictures Ryan Murphy has taken at Race Rocks


See the file on Slash

See the Elephant seal Index File