A sea lion on the grass

Weather

At 8:00 light North West wind,Overcast sky,13 miles of visibility.The wind became full West later and raised steadily to 30 knots in the afternoon and evening.

Ecological

Chunk was back but Boss gone …The pups were moving more . (The other young male elephant seal is always around and can often be seen in the water) . Many birds now and are getting busier and noisier:pigeons guillemots ,crows,oystercatchers by pairs now,geese ,Harlequins ducks,Eagles in the morning,some shorebirds…a lot of life! In the afternoon we were surprised to see in middle of the lawn under our windows a young californian Sea lion : a branded one (940C) He had something hanging from his neck maybe a small hook and a line. We never saw a lonely Sea lion before  far from the rocks and alone? strange he looked tired?DSC_0317DSC_0624DSC_0645

Boats

it is pretty calm on the waters …we saw a few fishing boats .It is the beginning of the halibut fishing season

Pigeons – guillemots back

Weather

Very light wind,not stable going from  West to East,calm sea, Sky:overcast to cloudy and rainy (light).Visibility :10 miles, Air temperature:3.9 degrees Celsius.

Ecological

Today for the first time this winter we saw a flock of guillemots :30 around.Chunk was gone fishing but back in the evening .12 geese almost all the time on the Rock.

Vessels

One watching vessel and a big fishing boat heading to the Ocean.

Census

Pigeons -guillemots:35

Elephants Seals : 5 to 6

Gulls :650

Californians Sea Lions :235. One tagged: no 486

Steelers sea Lions:55

Geese:12

Eagles:6 to 9

Harlequin Ducks:7

Harbour Seals:27

Cormorants:110

green tag, C-586

Weather: West wind, 30 knots reaching up to 40 knots. Visibility limited by rain.

Ecological: While doing the Christmas Bird count I came across a female elephant seal on the West side of Great Race.  She is flipper tagged, green, c-586 and appears to be moulting. She also appears to be stuck in between some rocks.  With an iron bar I was able to move a rock that was against her neck, this exposed a nasty wound where the rock had been embedded into her flesh.  With the impediment removed I left her to see if she would be able to move freely.  When I returned a few hours later she had only changed position by 90 degrees.  I could see signs of abrasion on her underside as well.  I took photos and sent a marine mammal injury report to the DFO and a veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

Boats: 1 ecotour

Maintenance: continued firewood stacking, basement tidying.

christmas bird count and census

Birds:

  • Turnstone: 12
  • Dunlin: 4
  • Bald Eagle: 13
  • Raven: 2
  • Harlequin Duck: 22

     

  • Black Oyster Catcher: 13

 

  • Cormorant (pelagic and double crested): 57
  • Gull: 67

Pinnipeds:

  • California Sea Lion: 106
  • Northern Sea Lion: 94
  • Elephant Seal: 2 male, 1 female green flipper tag c-586
  • Harbour Seal: 10 (probably more, West Rock)

 

 

Beautiful Day to Remember

 

End of Shift.  Tomorrow Riley will arrive for his shift and we will be off. All the best, Riley, for your stay in this amazing hotspot of living activity and tidal rushes. The people of BC are lucky to have Race Rocks protected under BC Parks’ highest level of protection as an Ecological Reserve. It was a pleasure working with the classes of biology and marine science students this week and a treat to be in this special place.

Weather and Sea Conditions  Winds: Light and variable;  Sky: Morning low overcast slight mist cleared to sunny in afternoon;  Visibility: Mostly good ~10 – 15 nm;  The accumulated solar radiation today was 250 Langleys, the equivalent of a little over 2900 Watts per square meter. The UV Index was high at 7.4;  Barometer: 102.7 kPa and falling Sunday evening;  Forecast: Wind easterly 5 to 15 knots becoming light Monday afternoon then increasing to west 20 to 25 Monday evening. Strong wind warning in effect.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve   Whale watching vessels: 12 were observed working in Ecological Reserve (ER). All were professional, providing a good model for other boaters transiting the ER.

Sport fishing vessels: A total of 11 sport fishing vessels were observed in the ER today. Three were noted speeding in the ER and two vessels were observed fishing for hours, in the closed to fishing, Rockfish Conservation Area. Photos were taken, processed and filed. There were approximately 70 sports fishing vessels fishing to the west and then drifting by to the east, all but five appeared to follow rules.

Ecology  The first three Harlequin Ducks of the season were spotted today, one male and two females. They have returned from their alpine summer breeding habitat for a coastal winter. A Great Blue Heron was observed fishing, standing on a dense raft of Bull Kelp. A thorough search for the Sea Otter turned up nothing. Enormous mixed species feeding flocks were observed in Race Passage in the afternoon. There are fewer sea lions ashore during the day right now and there have been dietary shifts visible in their feces, which are hard to miss. One animal was observed feeding on what appeared to be a Coho close to a kelp bed on the west side of Great Race.

Visitors  None.

Sustainability  Although it was gray in the morning by 14:00 there was enough sunlight that we made fresh water with solar energy powering the de-salinator.

Maintenance and Operations  Regular chores and clean-up.

 

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.

 

Brand X

 

Weather and Sea Conditions

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

Sky: Partially overcast, scattered showers

Visibility: good, 10 to 15 nm

Barometer: 101.8 kPa rising Monday evening

Forecast: a few showers changing to chance of showers tonight and Tuesday morning.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Whale watching vessels: 12 observed working in Ecological Reserve

No other other commercial operators or sport fishing vessels, noted in Reserve today.

Ecology

First Bald Eagle, this shift noted today on West Rocks

California Gulls feeding on surface in Middle Channel

Large mixed species flocks feeding in Race Passage and near North Rock

Sea lion brands (see photos)

Sustainability

Downspout on energy building reinstalled (had been removed) with two 90 degree bends to facilitate bucket filling.

Visitors

None

Maintenance and Operations

Regular chores completed

Back of Eco-barrel shed scrubbed.

Shimmed energy-building ladder at upper attachment points to remove play.

Hasp fallen off – replaced loose screws on freshwater storage building door hasp with bolts.

Hinges ripped on one side of freshwater storage shed door. Plugged screw holes with wooden dowels and re-screwed.

Noted large bag of garbage in Science house basement and stack of used plumbing and old carpet from tank shed next to boat shed, to be removed.

 

 

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

 

 

Blog On.

This blog covers three days, September 15, 16 and 17th; Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It will be replaced by a point form log for the rest of the stay.

Weather and Sea Conditions

Thursday was part of the last high pressure system with sunny afternoon westerlies of 10 – 15 knots. Friday was a transition day with heavy fog burning off by early afternoon and accompanied by westerlies of up to 25 knots. By dusk it had clouded over and showers continued overnight and into Saturday morning. This wet weather came with winds from the north. Morning fog patches continued Saturday and by early afternoon the wind switched from 10 – 15 knots north, to 25 -30 knots west partially cleared with sun between showers. The marine forecast for Central Juan de Fuca Strait includes a strong westerly wind warning. The wind is predicted to drop to westerly 10 to 15 early Sunday morning and showers are expected to end near midnight Saturday.

It appears that the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve weather station has not been operating since mid-June, so longer-term context is not possible other than anecdotal information recorded in recent logs.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Commercial whale-watching activity inside the Ecological Reserve boundaries is busy, with 20 commercial visits noted on the 16th and 14 visits on the 17th. The guidelines for vessel activity are not being observed by all operators and some of the commercial vessels are as close as 5 meters from the sea lions (and shore). Some very large vessels are going through shallow passages, making erratic turns in the current, travelling against the current and several vessels were seen speeding (> 7 knots within 400 m of Great Race). No other commercial activity was observed. Although several recreational vessels were seen passing through, there was no sports-fishing activity noted within the closed area.

Ecology

Seasonal shifts are apparent with the return of some ‘winter’ species and visits by fall migrants. There are only seven Glaucous-winged Gull chicks left on Great Race Island that are not fully fledged. The smallest, chick has a badly injured left leg. One other still has pinfeathers on its head and the rest are close to flying. There are notably fewer gull chick remains on the island this year perhaps indicating a lower mortality rate. There does not appear to be any data on the number of nests or their productivity this year so it may just reflect lower productivity. The logged death of the old River Otter may be related to the drop in chick carcass numbers.

Glaucous-winged Gulls are still the dominant gull species here on Great Race. California Gulls are abundant in the area but not roosting on Great Race yet. There are large (>1,000 birds), mixed species, feeding flocks adjacent to the Ecological Reserve in Race Passage and in the distance. California Gulls have been seen resting on thick mats of Bull Kelp in Middle Channel.

Black Turnstones and Surfbirds have returned from the Arctic where they nest in the summer. One Ruddy Turnstone was noted today feeding on flies, fuel for a migration that may extend as far south as South America. A single Sanderling was noted both Friday and Saturday and this is another species that nests in the Arctic and is widespread in the ‘winter’. Black Oystercatchers, which are much more site fidel, are roosting near the energy building in the evenings. At least one Kildeer was heard each evening just after dark.

Both Stellers (Northern) and California Sea Lions are moulting this time of year and are hauling out on Great Race, South Seal and South Islands as well as Middle Rocks and Turbine Rock. Photos were taken and processed, of branded, tagged and entangled sea lions.

Northern Elephant Seals are hauling on both Middle and Great Race and a total of six were noted Saturday. No big males. Harbour Seals are abundant and using these haul-out areas; West, Middle, Turbine, North and South Seal Rocks and South Islands.

A single Sea Otter was observed in the kelp just south of North Rocks Saturday morning.

One Humpback Whale was noted feeding near the Ecological Reserve.

Sustainability

Solar panels are maintaining power for the island in spite of intermittent cloud and showers. Without the weather station operational, sunlight levels are not being measured. The diesel generator is run for a couple of hours each evening to top up the batteries for the night.

Visitors

Kyle brought three visitors yesterday, two from Ocean Networks Canada and one from Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, for a site visit.

Maintenance and Operations

Regular chores included the 06:15 daily weather report for Pedder Bay Marina, daily solar panel maintenance, walkway cleaning, repairing and electrifying fences. The outside of the fuel barrel (eco-four) house was scrubbed, tops of fuel barrels stored outside were drained of water, and windows in the energy building were washed. The “science” house was inspected, an open window closed in the basement, exterior electrical box was noted broken from wall and conduit open at bottom (photo). Science house furnace was full on and the upstairs temperature was 22.0o C. Thermostat turned down. It was noted that diesel had been spilled in basement. Spill pads on the fuel drum are saturated and there was diesel on the entry bootscrubber/doormat. Looked at derrick dock woodpile and noted creosoted and pressure treated wood in woodpile, probably a health hazard to burn. Inspected chainsaw chain…just needs filing. Took VHF, charger and manual to top of tower to replace the one missing from there. Wheelbarrows were deployed for rainwater catchment. The conductivity meter’s line was marked with yellow electrical tape so that seawater sampling could be done at measured depth. In the energy building an attempt was made to align the indicator lights on the three Xantrax controllers with the holes. Two out of three can now be seen and the middle one can be seen plainly with the lights out. The flashing rate of these lights indicate the controller’s stage of operation and approximate battery voltage which is helpful to knowing how long to run the generator. Weather station troubleshooting will continue tomorrow.

 

Chunk vs. Chuckles

Weather

  • 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

Ecological

  • 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.

Maintenance

  • 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.

Boats

  • 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.

Other

  • 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.

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