Jan 12th 2017


  • Visibility: 15 Miles
  • Wind: 5-10 S
  • Sky: Cloudy
  • Water: Choppy about 1 metre


  • Kyle came by today to help me fuel the generator


  • The pup seems to be doing well, the largest male is staying near the mom and pup and is chasing the 3 smaller males off when they get too close
  • There appears to be a small female sea lion, stellar by the colouring by the jetty that doesn’t appear to be doing too well

A Visitor From Afar


  • Visibility: 10-15 miles today. At times quite hazy.
  • Wind: 15-25 knots West
  • Sky: clear and sunny
  • Water: 1′ chop


  • Conducted a census today.
  • Found a tiny dead harbour seal on the rocks.
  • A flock of geese arrived in the late afternoon.
  1. Harbour Seals: 91
  2. Northern Sea Lions: 35
  3. Elephant Seals: 22 (17 on Great Race, 5 on Middle Rock)
  4. California Sea Lions: 20
  5. Seagulls: 275
  6. Pigeon Guillemots: 130
  7. Canada Geese: 20! (although for much of the day only 10)
  8. Black Oystercatchers: 8
  9. Harlequin Ducks: 3 (2 females, 1 male)
  10. Cormorants: 2
  11. Bald Eagle: 1
  12. Rock Sandpiper: 1
  13. Unidentified large bird on Middle Rock; Owl?: 1


  • Removed lots of algae from the boat house.
  • (Re)discovered that the pressure washer does not work.


  • About 4 eco-tours came by today.
  • Chris dropped off and picked up my friend Greg O’.


  • Greg O’, the tree scientist of Vernon, came by in the afternoon for a 3 hour visit!

Greg O come for a visit!


  • A couple of big DND blasts in the afternoon.

Swells high today

Ecological happenings

  • Gulls have been feeding in large flocks
  • Swells of up to 7ft today
  • Many Sea Lions appear to have left the island. The swells have not been forgiving on the inhabited rocks.

Marine Vessels

  • Three tour boats
  • One sail boat


  • Three visitors today, (1 from Pearson College) who were given a tour of the Island.

March 22 – Rainbows and Venus

Overcast in the morning, rain and breaks of sun in the afternoon
Wind: NE 3-17, switching to SW 2-14 in the late afternoon onwards
Air Temperature: Low 7.8°C, High 10.0°C
Ocean Temperature: 8.8°C

A 2.6m high tide came overnight, sending lots of logs floating through the reserve today. A small dead octopus washed ashore near the energy building. It was noticed by the visiting Pearson students, much to the excitement of their curious marine science minds.

The visiting students returned to the college this morning.

A floatplane flew very low over Great Race this morning. One eco tour boat was seen in the reserve today.

A very bright Venus was visible this evening, soon after the sunset. It was in the west of the sky, just north of the moon.

March 18 – Divers Clean the Underwater Camera

Wind: SW 5-14 knots in the morning, NE 5-9 knots in the late morning to afternoon, calm in the evening
Air Temperature: Low 7.8°C, High 10.7°C
Ocean Temperature: 8.8°C

Nine students came this afternoon with Courtney, Laura and Nazim to dive from the jetty. The seven divers were in groups of two and three for 30 minute dives. The others provided support from above.

Bader and Sean dove together and followed the cable out to the underwater camera, which lies at a depth of 12m of water out from the end of the jetty. They cleaned the plastic dome, which had become dirty with diatoms. See the photos below.

The divers mentioned seeing lots of vivid colours and amazing species including: urchin, anemone, rockfish, greenling, rose star and bull kelp.

Up on land, there was lots of vitamin D to soak up today while doing outdoor tasks: chopping firewood, stacking firewood, sweeping and tending to compost.

There was one fishing boat seen passing through the reserve today.

March 12 – Sunny Census Thursday

Wind: 0-13 knots SW in the morning, NE from mid morning to afternoon and SW in the evening
Air Temperature: Low 9.9°C, High 13.2°C
Ocean Temperature: 9.0°C

Three Pearson students came to Race Rocks this morning. Karen, Sunny and Hanne joined Martin, who has been here since Monday.

The students did some work this afternoon: sweeping all 99 steps of the lighthouse and continuing the process of stowing the chopped wood in all the nooks and crannies of the buildings, to be used next winter to heat the main house.

There was DND blasting happening in the morning and early afternoon on Bentinck Island, less than 1km away from the ecological reserve.

Today’s high temperature of 13.2°C, as measured at the ground weather station, was the highest recorded since 2006, when the weather station was installed. A high of 14°C was recorded by the instruments at the top of the lighthouse.

Three eco tour boats visited the reserve. One boat came very close to a group of sea lions swimming and others hauled out on the South Islands.

The low tide of 1.1m at 13:52, exposed lots of species from the low tide zone into the air. The shore and tidal pools were full of life: mussels, barnacles, limpets and lots of other flora and fauna of the sea. The oystercatchers and shore birds were having a feast.

There were no small birds perching birds seen today. There are usually a few fox, sparrows, savannah sparrows and occasionally juncos and robins zipping around the island.

Here are the results from today’s Megafauna Census:
Elephant Seal: 1
Steller Sea Lion: 54
California Sea Lion: 43
Harbour Seal: 52
Bald Eagle: 9
Great Blue Heron: 1
Crow: 1
Oystercatcher: 4
Double Crested Cormorant: 12
Brandt’s Cormorant: 21
Gull: 247
Canada Goose: 14
Pigeon Guillemot: 9
Harlequin Duck: 13
Surfbird: 3
Black Turnstone: 10
Rock Sandpiper: 2

March 11 – Cleaning, Diving and Nearby Blasting

Overcast with periods of sun and rain
Wind: 1 – 17 knots NE, switching to W in the evening
Air Temperature: Low 9.0°C, High 11.3°C
Ocean Temperature: 9.0°C

In the morning, the visiting students helped with a service project to clean the algae off the exterior walls of the tank room and boat house. Elbow grease, a non toxic de-algae formula, brushes and water were used to tackle the algae. Rain water was pumped from the collection tank at the Ecoguardian’s House, which saves the energy intensive desalinated water for the kitchens and washrooms.

For several hours beginning at 10:30, DND set off explosives on nearby Bentinck Island, which is less than 1km from the ecological reserve. Birds, marine mammals and an Ecoguardian were startled by the blasts.

This afternoon, the four students doing the rescue diving course practiced more scenarios off the jetty with Chris.

Chris brought a volunteer from Pearson to visit for a couple hours. Myriam Guilbert, who is the mother of second year student Chloé, toured around the island snapping photos of the flora, fauna and views. She had heard lots of stories about Race Rocks from her daughter.

There were two eco tour boats, one recreational boat and the Pearson’s Haiku in the reserve today.

March 8 – Visitors Galore

Sunny, with patches of fog in the afternoon
Wind: Light northeasterly in the morning and afternoon, calm in evening and switching to 8 knots W at night
Air Temperature: Low 6°C, High 10°C
Ocean Temperature: 8.9°C

There were a lot of visitors today from a leadership program being put on by the Roy Group for twenty-four students visiting from Texas Christian University. The two groups of twelve students made their way around the island to discover the four archetypes of mythical leadership: magician, sovereign, lover and warrior.

Fog in the mid afternoon made it tricky to navigate the boat to and from Pedder Bay in the afternoon. I benefited from the waypoints that Courtney programmed into the plotter on the boat.

Chunk is still camped out on the grass by the helicopter pad.

There was a dive boat with five divers to the west of South Islands this morning.

March 7

Wind: 3 – 9 knots NE, switching to SE in afternoon
Air Temperature: Low 7°C, Hight 11°C
Ocean Temperature: 9°C

The morning was spent preparing the Marine Science Centre, and tidying around the island, to get ready for visiting students that are coming to Race Rocks this week.

Chunk, the large male elephant seal, is still camped out on the grass below the helicopter pad.

I left the reserve in the afternoon to attend One World, the annual show of dance, music and stories put on by Pearson students. I returned to Race Rocks with a visitor. The boat ride was spectacular as the sunset cast a rainbow of colours over the Juan de Fuca Strait.

Two eco tour boats were seen in the ecological reserve today.

Thank you to Travis, today’s Race Rocks visitor, for the photos.

The Sun is Shining

The wind dissipated over night. After 8:00am, the wind was calm, only blowing 3 to 5 knots from the southwest. The barometer rose to a high of 1030 hPa at noon, then slowly fell to about 1027 hPa. The temperature reached a high of 12.6oC

There were five visitors that came from Pearson College, on the boat Second Nature. Courtney brought two folks from Cullen Water to install the repaired desalinator pump. Tristan and Robin, volunteers from Wales, helped carry the many boxes that contain the new composting toilets. Each house will have the toilets installed soon.

There were two whale watching boats in the reserve this afternoon. Four halibut fishing boats were spotted to the west of the reserve for most of the afternoon. Many large boats passed within a few kilometres of the southern boundary of the reserve, including a submarine, tankers and HMCS Edmonton.

The harbour seals were difficult to spot for the census yesterday. With the sun and warm weather today, they were hauled out on the rocks to catch some rays. 32 were seen today, compared with only 7 yesterday.

Three branded sea lions were seen on South Seal Rocks, just south of the engine room. I have let Pat Gearin at NOAA know about the sightings and he will let me know where else they have been.

There are updates about the two branded sea lions spotted yesterday.

Pat Gearin wrote to me with the details about the Steller that was branded 966R as a pup at Rogue Reef, Oregon in July 2011.  It is a male and so far we have 9 resights from this individual, all from BC.  In 2011, he was sighted at Pachena Point once, and in 2012 he was sighted at Carmanah 8 times.

Matthew Tennis wrote that U596 was branded on August 15, 2014 in Astoria. At that time he weighed ~193 kg. He was seen in Astoria for a few days following the branding and again in the middle of October. This is the first resight for this animal outside of Astoria. They have high site fidelity and being a relatively young animal, it is very possible he will be seen at Race Rocks for years to come.

Maintenance tasks were performed today: moving propane tanks, pressure washing the algae and bird poop off the exterior of the houses, dismantling the old toilets, picking up garbage that has washed ashore and running generator and new and improved desalinator.