Spring coming…

Weather

For those 2 first days of the week the weather has been very calm,with still East to North East winds. We don’t have  a steady West wind yet but Spring is definitively at the corner and most of all, days are really longer.On Monday we had an incredible good visibility. What a fun to see so well Victoria and to follow a few sail boats…Recreational fishing are coming back around East Sooke too. Tuesday was a very calm day too but overcast and no wind at all …a before storm feeling.

Ecological

We have now a new young male Elephant seal around in the water mainly but he came ashore for the first time on Sunday. Chunk was pretty quiet and stayed  behind the students house. His scares on the back were pretty bad for a while but they are looking better now .One pup, always the same ,was on and off the Rocks,depending and stayed apart from the other one. This other one was always at the same spot ,not far from the crane .The big male named Boss was around them all the time and when the second born one made noise he got closer to him

Maintenance

Guy cleaned the water sampling shed and it is shining now!!! He cleaned the boat  too and the bench and the panel explaining Race Rocks above it.He changed the winch and belt of the trailer. The winch gets rusty pretty quick because it had been already changed in Summer.

Vessels 

Just a few Watching boats

 

Gale warning

Weather

At 8h00it was pretty calm:6 knots North East wind, Overcast and 6.3 degrees (Air) , a very high tide with the coming Full Moon. Even calmer at 10:00 with 4knots and at 11:00 the wind and swell got inverted and increased to 40.7Knots at 12:00 . Wild and quick! It went to 42 and 48 at 13:30 and stayed strong around 30 to 48 knots the whole afternoon . It was sunny and beautiful. At 8:00PM it slowed down to 28knotsDSC_0149DSC_0130DSC_0212

Ecological

4 elephant seals the same 2 male adults and 2 pups. Sea Water warmer around 7 degrees

Vessels

1 nuclear submarine with 3 ships (a big ,a middle size one and a small one )  The hull was outside of water heading to the ocean… very impressive scenery

No more adult females elephant seals on the rock

Weather

At 8:00 AM North East light wind,calm ,forecast,grey sky . heavy rain between 9:30 and Noon.temperature :3.3 ,very high tide (actually the highest since the beginning of our stay). At 1:30 PM the wind totally stopped and the flag was down like a stick.Southwest early in the afternoon:30 knots at 4:40PM and 27 to 37 full South around 6PM. Early in the evening it steady picked up with a gust at 51 knots! At 9:15 PM we still had 40 knots .The air temperature was pretty high too at 9.1 degrees celsius

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ecological

The last adult female elephant seal left in the night so 2 lonely pup now but the male stayed around the whole day and Chunk came back and went on its own,With the melting snow and the rain we got a large pool on the lawn so it was a cleaning and washing time for everyone:geese and elephants and birds…it was not dark at 7:50

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Maintenance 

We kept the fresh water tank full ,filing up every two days . The generator is working everyday  for around 6 hours.

Other

DND blasts :12 blasts in a few hours and 2 pretty strong ones. We counted 7 seconds between the time you see some smoke and the bang.

Gale warning and snow again

Weather

At 8:00 AM the wind was already at 25 knots from North East with a choppy sea. The visibility early was at 15 miles but during the day we had little to no visibility.at all just enough to see the rocks and the jetty.The wind got up to 30 knots and stayed at 30 almost all day long and even after sunset. A lot of snow for a while but not like the other day:no accumulation.DSC_0877

Ecological

The male has been steady mating  those 2 last days so no problem for a next generation…and always closed to the female and her pup and he even doesn’t go fishing very often. She is still feeding the pup ,born 23 days ago…so logically a few days more… We are very curious to see what will happen shortly. A few geese are still there…

Other

3 watchers zodiacs around 1:00PM with the swell, the wind and the snow falling….Big memories for the people aboard! they got as much as possible for the price they ‘re payingDSC_0859DSC_0863

DND activity again : 4 blasts

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.

 

Pearson Students Have a Whale of a Time

Weather and Sea Conditions Winds: Winds were variable swinging all the way around the compass starting with east-southeast at 10 -15 knots in the early morning. It backed through northeast and northwest then to light west southwest by early afternoon. By late afternoon it had passed through southeast again still turning counterclockwise to northeast. Sky: Heavy overcast with showers in the morning then partially clearing. Afternoon sunny. Visibility: Mostly good 15 nm, except in fog. Barometer: 101.4 kPa rising Friday afternoon Forecast: Winds westerly 10 to 20 late this afternoon then diminishing to light after midnight. Periods of rain ending this evening.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve Whale watching vessels: Fourteen were observed working in Ecological Reserve (ER). One of the whale watchers sped into the ER while there were Killer Whales in Middle Channel. Contact was made by VHF radio and they left slowly without responding on the VHF. Later three whale watching vessels were “herding” the killer whales around and inside Rosedale. By rushing ahead of the whales and placing themselves in their path and by “squeezing” the whales in towards the shore of the ER, two of the vessels put themselves into positions where they were observed backing in reverse into the wind and waves and away from the killer whales. After this, we noted that one adult male killer whale was breaching very close to the two zodiacs. Two much larger whale watching vessels were observed using a similar tactic with a Humpback Whale mid afternoon. No other commercial operators, noted in ER today. Sport fishing vessels: Two noted in ER today travelling reasonably slowly through Middle Channel.

Ecology: Six to seven Killer Whales graced Race Rocks Ecological Reserve with their presence today. The group was made up of one large male, one slightly smaller male with a nick on his dorsal fin about a third of the way up, one small and one very small individual and two or three females, one with a nick on her dorsal fin. Photos are out with a query to confirm their identification. These animals swam over directly from Church Point late morning and came in and out of the ER at least three times. They were also observed going into the entrance of Pedder Bay and through Eemdyk Passage behind Bentink Island.  Two Humpback Whales, one large and one small were observed feeding about one mile south of the ER and one Humpback was “chased” into the ER by whale watching boats. Five young Northern Elephant Seals came ashore and spent the afternoon sleeping over by the energy building. Two adult Bald Eagles were seen in the ER today, causing the gulls to flock off with every pass. A high abundance of Moon Jellies was observed in the plankton over the last few days and sea surface temperature has dropped to ~10oC with fairly high (for here) salinity of 32.2 ppt.

Sustainability: Sustainability is not just about washing the windows with an eco-friendly product, it also means engaging young people with the natural environment and in particular with the ocean. The ocean has been called the blue elephant in the classroom, as it is a very large presence on our blue planet that is not included well in curriculum. Pearson College is making a difference to ocean literacy with their Marine Science programming and today new marine scientists were inspired to care for the ocean for future generations.

Visitors: Laura Verhegge and two Marine Science classes came on learning field trips to Race Rocks today. Kyle transported everyone aboard Second Nature including distinguished guest, Felix Butschek. Felix is on a yearlong tour around the world as a Rolex Scholar with the Our World – Underwater Scholarship Society in Europe. Felix is a Pearson College alumnus who studied Marine Science with Laura, was active in the Pearson diving program and is now a promising young marine scientist with a serious passion for remote polar seas. It was nice to welcome Felix back to Race Rocks and see him inspiring the first year students during their fun biodiversity explorations and observations. The second class enjoyed observing Killer Whales swim right in front of us as we stood on the rock watching.

Maintenance and Operations: Regular chores. Both fences repaired. Windows washed in Eco-guardian house.

 

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.

 

Weather’s Fine

Weather and Sea Conditions

Winds: 5 – 15 knots, west-southwest

Sky: Clear

Visibility: Good 15 nm

Barometer: 101.5 falling Wednesday evening

Forecast: Wind increasing to westerly 5 to 15 near noon Thursday and to westerly 15 to 25 Thursday afternoon. Strong wind warning in effect.

Vessels in Ecological Reserve

Whale watching vessels: Fifteen observed working in Ecological Reserve (ER)

No other commercial operators, noted in Reserve today.

Sport fishing vessels: Five noted in Reserve today. None observed fishing in ER. One sport boat speeding through ER. One open run-about with a windshield was seen chasing a Humpback Whale and hopscotching with it in order to position itself in front of whale’s path.

Animal Census

Steller Sea Lion 429

California Sea Lion 402

Harbour Seal 133

Northern Elephant Seal 6 (3 of those on Great Race)

Sea Otter 1 (seen during week)

River Otter 0, (no evidence seen either)

Bigg’s (Transient) Killer Whale 6 (just outside ER)

Dall’s Porpoise 3 (seen during week just outside ER)

Harbour Porpoise 2 (seen during week just outside ER)

Humpback Whale 1 (3 during count week adjacent to ER)

Canada Goose 24

Cackling Goose 1

Harlequin Duck 0

Double-crested Cormorant 4

Pelagic Cormorant 11

Brandt’s Cormorant 39

Bald Eagle1 (seen during week)

Black Oystercatcher 22

Black Turnstone 17

Surfbirds 9

Ruddy Turnstone 1 (seen during week)

Sanderling 2

Western Sandpiper 5

Kildeer 3

Glaucous-winged Gull 1274

California Gull 83

Herring Gull 1

Heerman’s Gull 5

Gull spp. 328

Savannah Sparrow 23

Sustainability

Made fresh water using solar power to energize de-salinator.

Visitors None

Maintenance and Operations

Weather station back on-line after three months off. Fence maintenance, good for a few hours ; – )

 

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.

Ecology

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.

Sustainability

Compost care.

Visitors

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!