Vibrissae to Vibrissae They Faced Each Other.

Sunrise saw the big moon ‘dropping’ in the west this morning and clear sunny skies reigned supreme all day. The falling barometer continued its descent today but the forecast looks good with today’s light easterly winds continuing tomorrow.

Fifteen whale watching vessel visits to the protected area, were observed today. Speed on arrival and departure continues to be an issue with a few operators however the large majority of operators are driving at a slow, respectful and careful speed. A couple of the larger vessels with shallow draught are acting more and more as though they are little speed boats weaving in and out of the rocky islets, in areas which are, by agreement with the industry, off-limits. The agreement was established by consensus, to ensure sustainable whale watching operations within the protected area. Just in case institutional (or other) memory has been lost: travel is supposed to be confined to Middle Channel, going with the current. All of the companies using the Ecological Reserve for profit should be thinking about the example they are setting for pleasure craft and the sustainability image of their company (not to mention their marine insurers who would probably not be too happy about the risks being taken by the few).

Minke, Humpback and Biggs Killer Whales brought the whale watchers to the area today and the seals, sea lions and sea otter brought them into the Ecological Reserve. At low tide the sea otter can be seen in the kelp bed on the southeast corner of the reserve but I am not sure where he goes at high tide. He has moved back there after merciless whale watching traffic as close as was physically possible. While it did not appear to ‘bother” him having large powered vessels lurching over him, decks crowded with people gawking and taking photos, I can certainly understand the move.  The Bigg’s Killer Whales travelled west past Race Rocks today again using the shallow Eemdyk Passage behind Bentinck Island, which is directly across Race Passage from Race Rocks. Quite a few Harbour Seals haul out in there. There was a Humpback Whale feeding next to Church Rock in the morning and a Minke Whale travelling to the east was observed just east of North Rocks. There were Southern Resident Killer Whales in the area according to the VHF radio but I did not have a chance to spot them.

I did have the opportunity to observe some Stellers Sea Lions and take a few photos of two younger ones playing together and an older “couple” that seemed quite wise. I know that may sound anthropomorphic but what I observed was the animal on the left licking the neck of the big old bull and then the two muzzling each other gently lip to lip. It was the gaze of the big old male that seemed to tell a story about a long life. I can’t really explain it so here is a quote from Carl Safina who is very articulate about animal’s inner lives.

“We have no trouble saying that an animal who’s vigorously eating is hungry, and one resting after exertion is tired; yet we can hardly force ourselves to acknowledge that when they’re playing they’re having fun, or that when they’re acting affectionate they’re feeling the bond,” Safina said. “Why? Because denying them all experience reinforces our favorite story: that we are so very special.”

From Beyond Words: What Animals Feel and Think by Carl Safina, 2015

On the sustainability front, today was a great day for solar power and I made lots of fresh water with solar power using the desalinator. Chores were routine and there were no visitors.