Introduced Ornamentals

Light North wind this morning. Strong Westerlies this afternoon. Rain with periods of sun.

1 tour boat

This morning was the first time this Spring that there have been a few California Sea lions resting on the end of the jetty.

With Spring mostly here, many of the introduced ornamental plants are flowering. This isn’t a complete plant inventory, just a selection of plants that I noticed on my photo walk. The terrestrial plants at Race Rocks are dominated by introduced and invasive species. This is something that occurs at most light stations. There is a long history of trying to make the light stations look “like home”; Which is usually done by introducing hardy ornamental plants that can survive (although only a few thrive) on remote, salt and wind blasted light stations. Continue reading

Halibut fishing

Clear skies. Light North to North-East winds most of the day. Moderate Westerly this evening. Environment Canada beat out NOAA for the correct weather forecast today.

2 tour boats

For the past few days there have been a few recreational fisherman anchored just outside of the reserve boundaries fishing for halibut. You can tell they are fishing for halibut because they are anchored, usually with a scotsman buoy on the chain just off the bow; If they were after salmon they would be trolling. These fisherman are capitalizing on an effect called “spillover” where the high fish populations from a reserve act as a source to seed nearby areas. This effect is recognized as one of the many, valuable benefits protected areas in the marine environment.  The recreational halibut fishery opened on February 1st and will remain open until further notice from DFO. The rules this year are as follows:

  • Maximum length is 126 cm.
  • The daily limit is 1.
  • The possession limit is 2, only one of which may be greater than 83cm in length.
  • The annual limit is 6 halibut per licence holder.
  • For each halibut retained by the licence holder, the date of capture, the Fisheries Management Area from which it was caught and its length shall be immediately recorded in ink on the 2013-2014 Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Licence.
  • Area 121 aka Swiftsure Bank is a Closed Area to all finfish capture

Continue reading

Power Restrictions

Cloudy with scattered showers. Strong West wind in the evening.

4 tour boats

I spent the day with Aileen and her advisee group. Because there were 10 students (with all of their associated electronic equipment) the breaker on the inverter to the science house was tripped last night which resulted in a total electrical shut-down of the Science house where everyone was staying.  Our system and these old houses are just not meant for that much of a power draw. Because of that little power outage, the morning was spent showing them about the energy and resource systems on Race Rocks, with a strong emphasis on living within reasonable means, especially when in a remote place like this. My solution to the excessive use of power was to only allow them to use 2 plugs in the house to charge computers and phones. I think (hope) it turned into an unexpected team building exercise where they had to charge things minimally and barter for plug-time. Either way, it meant that we didn’t have any more power issues for the rest of their stay and it is something that I will implement for future groups.

I counted 13 Elephant seals on Middle rock. They return to Race Rocks for a few months in Spring to moult. Although they look absolutely terrible when they are moulting, it is a natural process that they undergo every year.



Ships Currently in the Area of Race Rocks, and the Associated Hazards

Shipping in the Strait of Juan de Fuca poses the greatest risk to the ecological integrity of the Race ROcks Ecological reserve. The risk of chronic oil spills increases directly with the Number of vessels in the waters. Chronic oil is a greater risk to marine life around the world than are the disastrous large spills, but the risk from both will increase if tanker traffic is allowed to proliferate in the Strait of Juan de Fuca:

These tagged posts detail the risk to this and other Marine Ecological reserves on southern Vancouver Island:

The live tracking image below shows the ships, their size and other details that are in the Strait around Race Rocks right now.

View Larger Map

Problems with Marine Vessels and their risk for Race Rocks:

It has always been a concern that Race Rocks is located in a very vulnerable location in the Entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. There is a need for regulations preventing the dumping of bilge and sewage from ships, and an emergency plan in the event of disaster from marine shipping.Shipping  Prshipwreckoblems:
The history of shipping in the past in the area is grim evidence that accidents happen. A fuel or chemical spill in the Strait of Juan de Fuca would have an untold impact on the biodiversity of the Ecological reserve. 

shipwreckMajor Marine Vessel Casualty Risk and Response Preparedness in British Columbia
Prepared for Living Oceans Society
Sointula/Vancouver, BC Canada
by EnviroEmerg Consulting Services Cowichan Bay, BC Canada

Government of Canada Announces Ballast regulations, June 2006

Cruise Ship Problems:
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See the following reference link on potential problems from Cruise ships and how they can be rated for environmental safety with the Cruise Ship Environmental report card.




Cruise Ship Dump Raises Alarm
Louise Dickson, Times Colonist
Thursday, May 08, 2003
The accidental dumping of raw sewage into Juan de Fuca Strait has renewed calls for stronger environmental regulations governing cruise ships.Norwegian Cruise Lines has confirmed that its ship, Norwegian Sun, dumped about 62,000 litres of raw sewage into American waters near Port Townsend, southeast of Victoria.

Victoria’s Cruise Ship Industry: Economic Benefits and their Environmental ImpactsBy: Elliot Houlston and Carly Daoust , 2005″Being that a cruise ship functions like a small city, it will pollute like a small city as well. In one week’s time a single cruise ships empties 210,000 gallons of sewage (human waste), 1,000,000 gallons of grey water (water from sinks, bathing and washing), 8 tons of solid waste (paper, plastic, cardboard, food waste) and 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water8. Some hazardous wastes such as photo chemicals and used paint are produced also. These are only the water pollutants created by cruise ships. There are many air pollutants as well.”Dirty Waters: Cashing in on Ocean Pollution 18 January 2010 in DC BureauBy David Rosenfeld
Return to Index of Environmental Disturbances to the ecosystem at Race Rocks

Bufflehead, Bucephala albeola, Race Rocks Taxonomy


Bufflehead , Bucephala albeeola photographed near Great Race Rocks March 30, 2014 by Courtney Edwards,

Domain Eukarya
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Subphylum Vertebrata
Class Aves
Order Anseriformes
Family Anatidae
Subfamily  Merginae
Genus Bucephala
Species albeola
Common Name: Bufflehead

We normally see Buffleheads throughout the winter months feeding in bays and along beaches on the shores of Metchosin. The males are much more obvious from their contrasting black and white plumage. This is the first observation we have had in the Race Rocks waters.


Clear skies. Moderate wind.

9 tour boats

Today was the last day of our recreational fishing count with DFO.

Erik brought out two contractors to measure all the windows that need to be replaced. Most of them are in the Science House. Some of the windows are so bad that there is either a 1-2cm salt crystal garden or a few centimeters of water between the panes.

-month end report
-compiled DFO data and images


Sea Scouts

Moderate West wind, easing in the afternoon. Low West swell. Patchy clouds.

A group of sea scouts came out for a tour today. They left out of Victoria Harbour on a schooner called Passing Cloud (Operated by Outer Shores Expeditions). They spent a couple hours on the island. Learning about the animals, the history of Race Rocks, and taking a look at the world from the top of the lighthouse.