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.

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.


Race Rocks Welcomes Pearson College Biology Students.


Weather and Sea Conditions

Winds: 5 – 15 knots, variable (North-northeast to South-southwest)

Sky: Partially overcast, sunny afternoon

Visibility: Good 15 nm

Barometer: 101.8 kPa  rising Tuesday evening

Forecast: Wind light becoming westerly 5 to 15 knots Wednesday afternoon. Mainly sunny. UV Index 4 predicted.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Whale watching vessels: Six observed working in Ecological Reserve.

No other commercial operators, noted in Reserve today.

Sport fishing vessels: Eight noted in Reserve today. Two sped through Ecological Reserve (ER) north of Rosedale. One person in vessel in, or very close to edge of ER observed fishing.

Second Nature: Ferrying biology students to and from Pearson College.


Two very large Humpback Whales observed feeding and travelling on north and west side of ER. Dall’s Porpoise feeding and travelling just outside of ER to north and into Pedder Bay.

Three Northern Elephant Seals at the Jetty.

First Heerman’s Gull of the shift observed.


Compost care.


Emily and first year biology students. Comparative tidal pool population studies linked to mapped pegs.

Maintenance and Operations

Regular chores completed

Safety tape put up around failing concrete stairs at Science house before students arrived


Received much appreciated fresh apples and onions from Luke via Kyle. Thank you both!



Spontaneous Whale Watching!


  • Visibility: 15+ miles
  • Mt. Baker visible at times today.
  • Wind: 10-15 knots West
  • Sky: clear and sunny!
  • Water: calm


  • We spied three eagles on Turbine Rock this morning.
  • 14 elephant seals on Great Race today, including both Chunk and Chuckles.
  • As Second Nature was departing Race Rocks sometime after 9:00, Kyle spied several whale watching boats following a pod of orcas outside the reserve.
  • I hopped aboard (sans camera) and we went off to join the fleet.
  • Over the next half hour or so, we watched 5 or 6 orcas as they repeatedly surfaced on their southerly course.
  • Christine (Guy’s wife) took several photographs; perhaps she will share them with us soon.
  • Pam Birley discovered a Black Oystercatcher nest today via webcam. That makes 3 known nests.
  • As Pam noted, it is “not a good spot to nest because the Otter likes to sunbathe in that spot on the rocks.”


  • I did some yellow paint touch up on the jetty.
  • Sprayed more algicide on the students’ house.
  • Shut-down the students’ house.


  • Second Nature arrived around 9:00, and properly departed around 10:00 after our unexpected whale watching trip!
  • Many eco-tours came by today.
  • A few of them appeared to be too close to the sea lions.


  • Kyle, Guy, Christine, and their daughter arrived at 9:00.
  • Guy and Christine were dropping off some gear for their upcoming shift.
  • Maya, Tazi, and Ali departed on Second Nature.

Tazi, Maya, Ali

Ali, Maya, Tazi, Mt. Baker

Kayak Symposium Visitors


  • Visibility: 15+ miles
  • Wind: 20-25 knots West
  • Sky: clear and sunshine!
  • Water: 1′ chop
  • What a wonderful last full day on the island for the students!


  • The elephant seals put on a show for our visitors.




  • The four of us ran the derrick to make sure the thing is still operating smoothly.
  • Tazi and Maya cleaned the solar panels.
  • I did some algae removal.


  • Kyle came out in Second Nature with two groups of kayak people.
  • Several sailboats were still returning past Race Rocks this morning and even into the afternoon.
  • Apparently they were participating in the 73rd annual Swiftsure International Yacht Race. What a wonderful activity!
  • The distance of the race is 159 miles, and as of right now (Sunday evening) there are still a few boats making their way back towards Race Rocks.


  • Two groups of folks from the kayak symposium came out to Race Rocks (about 16 in total).
  • Maya played us some guitar from the roof of the desalinator bunker.

The Grand Sailboat Regatta


  • Visibility: 8 miles in the early morning, 15 later on
  • Wind: 15-20 knots East, then North, then West
  • Sky: foggy and overcast, then sunny, then overcast
  • Scattered raindrops throughout the day
  • Water: mostly calm, with swells in the afternoon



  • Maya and Tazi conducted 4 intertidal transects today.
  • Studying an intertidal transect involves measuring out a certain distance from a peg, and then documenting the different species found every 0.5 metre.
  • In some transects the 0.5 metres are measured by water elevation; in others simply by distance.
  • By comparing the species found in every zone of the transect with transect data from previous decades, you can see the change in intertidal ecosystems due to climate change.
  • We saw a California Sea Lion with the brand U374 and another with a tracker.
  • While most of the gull eggs all look the same, one particular egg is quite different.


  • Maya and I ran the fire pump in the morning.
  • This added a few inches to the cistern.
  • We removed the old Canadian flag and hoisted a fresh one.
  • Tazi and I removed some algae.
  • Ali whacked away at the thistles.
  • We cleaned the solar panels.


  • Over 150 sailboats from Victoria passed by Race Rocks in the late morning on their way towards the Western horizon.
  • Some of them started to return as late as 22:30.
  • The colours of their sales included: red, blue, white, fluorescent yellow, green, purple, black, orange, and many combinations of all of the above.
  • Some standouts included the Miles Davis sail and the Union Jack.
  • I couldn’t stop taking photos and ended up with dozens. Below is a selection of the best.
  • One coastguard zodiac and a search and rescue boat appeared to be accompanying the sailboats.
  • Several eco-tours came by, including one Eagle Wings tour that drove through the South Channel.
  • Passing through the South Channel is prohibited as the width is too narrow.

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.

A Windy Census


  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 20-25 knots West in the morning, picking up to 30-35 by noon.
  • Sky: overcast
  • Water: 3′ chop



  • I oversaw an enthusiastic day long census with Maya, Tazi, and Ali.
  • Discovered a new Black Oystercatcher nest with 3 eggs!
  • Maya and Tazi discovered a new Canada Goose nest.
  • I begin to suspect that our new elephant seal male is actually Chuckles.
  • If he did nothing but eat for 3 months straight, that would explain his girth.
  • Saw a Steller Sea Lion branded 9628.
  • We found a blood star, and Maya showed us various chitons.
  • Maya and Tazi did a transect.
  1. Harbour Seals: 190
  2. California Sea Lions: 42
  3. Steller/Northern Sea Lions: 39
  4. Elephant Seals: 15 (13 on Great Race, 2 in the Southern waters)
  5. Seagulls: 225 (Glaucous-winged)
  6. Pigeon Guillemots: 82
  7. Canada Geese: 36 (14 on Great Race, 22 flyovers)
  8. Black Oystercatchers: 8 (plus 2 nests with a total 5 eggs)
  9. Harlequin Ducks: 3 (2 male, 1 female)
  10. Cormorants: 3
  11. Barn Swallows: 2


  • We cleaned the solar panels.
  • Finished cleaning the boathouse floor with T.S.P.
  • Repainted some rusty propane tanks.
  • Sanded the westward facing bench by the Students’ house.


  • Several eco-tours came by in the morning, but as wind picked up they disappeared.

Marine Sciences Field Exam


  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 5-10 knots West, in the evening up to 20.
  • Sky: clear
  • Water: calm


  • The 15 elephant seals were slower down to the water today, perhaps due to the influx of students.
  • One California Sea Lion spent most of the exam at the end of the jetty, unfazed by all the activity going on. Quite unusual for a sea lion!
  • All manner of barnacle, shell creatures, and algae plant things were examined today by the Pearson College students.


  • Approximately 30 folk from Pearson College made their way out to Race Rocks today.
  • This included Laura Verhegge who was running the Marine Sciences field exam, Johanna who was observing Pearson’s instruction techniques, one 2nd year student, one alumni, Chris, and 25 or so students.
  • The first group arrived at 8:15, the final group left at about 12:15.


  • Weed whacking.
  • Algicide application. Photo shows before scrubbing.
  • Safety observation and hosting of students during exam.
  • Ran the desalinator.

Algae before


  • The Ocean River Kayak Discovery Shuttle and Haiaku each took two trips of students to and from Race Rocks.
  • On the return voyage the tide was very low, and the sea lions were in the way, so the shuttle boat “docked” against the rocks on the NE part of Great Race.
  • At least 4 eco-tours came by the reserve today.
  • Saw a nice red sailed sailboat to the north of the reserve.
  • One boat spent much of the day fishing on the edge of the reserve.

Beulah Rolls Over

Winds were light and variable today under cloudy skies with occasional showers. Tomorrow has a similar forecast, partly cloudy, 40% chance of showers with the strong west wind warning continued. The barometric pressure reached 1020 hPa in the early hours of the morning and then dropped to 1012 by dusk. The wind materialized with rain after dark, gusting over 30 from the west.

Only two whale-watching vessels were seen today and neither was in the reserve. To the northeast of Victoria, J-pod (Resident Killer Whales), a Minke Whale and Transients (Bigg’s Killer Whales) were a draw for the whale watching fleet.  Two sports fishing vessels cruised through slowly.

Nothing to much report ecologically today other than spring is progressing rapidly. The female Northern Elephant Seal (Beulah) made the huge effort of rolling over today. That was it for activity there. Bald Eagles continue to fish and hunt birds in the reserve. The River Otter showed himself again today, near the derrick and within a meter of a small gaggle of geese. The River Otter was busy rubbing his scent gIands all over the grass there and then went into the sea and swam off in the direction of North Rock. From the scat, it looks like a fish diet, lots of scales and medium sized fish bones. I continue efforts to persuade the geese to nest on Vancouver Island. Seals, sea lions and cormorants rest, roost and dry out on the rocks. Glaucous-winged gulls, Black Oystercatchers and Pigeon Guillemots all make preparations for parenthood.

Pearson College divers, under the supervision of Laura Verhegge, visited this afternoon in Second Nature. They did a dive with three groups of divers, during the flood, in the back eddy by the jetty. Some of the students were ‘over the moon’ about their experience and really enjoyed the colours and rich sea life. They wanted to continue exploring even when it was time to go. Others were in ‘a little over their head’ and glad to be back on board. Great leadership and teamwork brought out the best in everyone. A very small sea lion appeared to enjoy having students to investigate and some of the students noticed.

No photos today, sorry, technical problems with camera.