Overcast with Calm Seas

The barometer continued to drop slowly from 1023 to 1018 hPa.  The wind continued to blow between 8 and 18 knots from the northeast.  There was a difference in the weather today, compared to the clear sunny skies that have been the usual for the past week.  Low clouds hung over the Juan de Fuca Strait for most of the day.  There were occasional breaks of sun in the late morning and early afternoon.  The whitecaps this morning calmed right down in the afternoon, making the sea the calmest it’s been for the past few weeks.

There was one recreational boat seen this morning in the southern part of the reserve.

Pam Birley, from the UK, sent two photos of sea lions that she captured on Camera 1, located at the top of the lighthouse.  Pam’s photos show two branded sea lions that have never been spotted at Race Rocks, as far as I can tell.  See the photos below.  Thanks Pam!

The desalinator was run today to top up the fresh water cistern.  The solar panels aren’t soaking up as much energy, due to the clouds.  The generator was run longer today to help out the energy intensive desalinator.

The Barometer Begins to Dip

The wind blew between 8 and 18 knots from the northeast throughout the day, less strong in the afternoon.  The day began with occasional whitecaps and a small swell from the northeast, calming down in the late morning. The barometer dropped from 1030 to 1023 hPa, ushering away the high pressure system that has been around for the past week.

There were no boats seen in the reserve today.

At 13:00, a group of humpback whales were surfacing about one kilometre to the northeast of the reserve, with no whale watching boats in sight.

The usual daily tasks were performed: salinity test, running the generator, collecting wood, cleaning the solar panels and general maintenance.

Humpback Whales

The wind blew at about 15 knots from the northeast for the daylight hours.  A swell with small whitecaps from the northeast died down at noon. The barometer dropped slightly from 1031 to 1029 hPa.  The sky was clear all day.

There were six whale watching boats seen in the reserve today.  The only other boat was the Race Rocks boat making a round trip to Pedder Bay at noon, for an Ecoguardian switchover.

Over the weekend, Jeff completed the installation of the new composting toilet in the Ecoguardian’s house.  It’s a big step up from the humanure system that was in place before.  The new waterless system has a unit in the basement, directly below the toilet, that decomposes the human waste and only needs to be emptied once a year.  An identical unit is going to be installed in the Marine Science Centre, once some minor wall demolition happens to accommodate unit in the basement.

At 14:00, there were two or three humpback whales within a few hundred metres of the northeast of Great Race Rocks.  They made their way to the south, diving for five minutes at a time and then resurfacing.  Two whale watching boats remained with them for about 45 minutes, sometimes very close to the whales.

Weekly Census of Race Rocks Fauna

The wind was gusting up to 33 knots from ENE overnight.  In the late morning, the wind settled to around 15 knots from the ENE, and has maintained that throughout the afternoon.  The gale warning for the Juan de Fuca Strait was lifted mid morning.  The barometer dropped slightly from 1018 to 1015 hPa, between overnight to the afternoon.

Two whale watching boats were seen in the reserve at 16:00.

There were a few differences noticed while doing today’s census, compared to last week. There were not as many smaller birds seen today.  The elephant seals are not hanging out near the jetty, where they have been for the past few weeks.  They are now a few hundred metres west, on Middle Rocks.  The harbour seals were easier to spot because they were basking in the sun on the many small islands that make up the ecological reserve.

Here are the results of today’s census:
Steller Sea Lion: 430
California Sea Lion: 359
Harbour Seal: 36
Northern Elephant Seal: 6
Canada Goose: 37
Double Crested Cormorant: 12
Pelagic Cormorant: 41
Gull: 756
Black Turnstone: 1
Savannah Sparrow: 1

Jeff Spears is coming to the Rock to relieve me for a few days, as I head to a meeting in Calgary.

More Wind, Waves and Clear Skies

The wind blew between 23 to 37 knots from the east for most of the day.  A swell with 1m waves continued from the east.  The barometer dropped from 1027 to 1019 hPa.  The visibility was unlimited, with clear skies.

There weren’t any boats seen in the reserve today.

Only one elephant seal was seen today by the jetty, where upwards of 16 have been spotted there in the last few weeks.

I received some information from Pat Gearin at NOAA about three of the branded steller sea lions seen within the past several days.  All three were branded as pups in Rogue Reef, Oregon.  I have reposted the photos below.


833R was branded in July 2009 as a pup when he weighed 32kg and was 110cm long.  Since then he has been seen in June 2011 at Patrick’s Point, CA; and June 2014 in Tatoosh West, WA.
946R was branded in July 2011 as a pup when she weighed 29.9kg and was 108cm long.  Since then she has been seen in December 2011 at Pachena, BC; June through September 2012 in Rogue Reef, OR; and in July 2013 at Jagged Island, WA.
872R was branded in July 2011 as a pup when she weighed 30.8kg and was 107cm long.  Since then she has been seen 16 times between Pachena, BC and Tatoosh West, WA.

The desalinator ran today for 8.5 hours, creating about 600L of fresh water.  The solar panels were producing 1.2kw of electricity this afternoon.  The windows on the Ecoguardian’s house were cleaned inside and out.  More cleaning and installation was done in the basements of the two houses to ready the spaces for the composting drums and collection units for the new composting toilets.

One elephant seal lies on the boat ramp, with waves crashing ashore.

One elephant seal lies on the boat ramp, with waves crashing ashore.

The car carrier Seven Seas Highway and another cargo ship pass within a few kilometres of Race Rocks.

The car carrier Seven Seas Highway and another cargo ship pass within a few kilometres southeast of Race Rocks Ecological Reserve.

Ring-necked Steller Sea Lion

The wind blew between 20 to 38 knots from the northeast for most of the day, switching to the east southeast in the evening.  A swell with 1m waves came in from the east.  The barometer climbed from 1023 to 1026 hPa.  The visibility was unlimited, with clear skies.

There weren’t any boats seen in the reserve today.

A ring-necked steller sea lion was seen on South Rock, the same place that another one was seen yesterday.  The sea lion has the brand 946R.  It has been seen at Race Rocks since August.  The Sea Lion Disentanglement Project is arranging a visit to rescue the two or three entangled sea lions that have been spotted recently on Race Rocks.

Underwater Cam2 sealions .

Today Pam Birley from the UK sent these images she captured from Camera 2 at Race Rocks . This shpws what rewards one can get by having patience ! Click for full size.

 See other pictures taken remotely by Pam Birley