Navy Submarine!

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 15-20 knots North East
  • Sky: overcast
  • Water: 1′ chop
  • Borderline fog in the evening.

Ecological

  • The same ten elephant seals on Great Race today.
  • Through the window I saw a small flock of black songbirds perched in the bushes, but they had flown away before I could take a photo.
  • I went outside to try and find them, but by then they were gone.
  • Perhaps they were red-winged blackbirds? That’s the only predominantly black songbird that has previously been recorded in these parts that would fit what I saw.

Maintenance

  • Finished up and submitted the April report.
  • Hand pumped diesel into the day tank.
  • Goose work.

Boats

  • A few eco-tours came by.
  • One boat was fishing in the reserve, but I have seen it before, and I am pretty sure that it is a First Nations boat.
  • What I can only assume was a US Navy submarine with an escort passed through the strait south of Race Rocks shortly before 18:00.

Illegal Fishing

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 5-15 knots NE
  • Sky: overcast
  • Water: calm

nostalgic-sunset-2-10

Ecological

  • Noted two branded California Sea Lions.
  • U503 and U400.
  • Saw many others with brands but unable to view complete brand.

Maintenance

  • Fixed the electric fence near the energy building which had been ripped apart again.
  • Reorganized some diesel barrels.
  • Cleaned the solar panels.
  • The usual chores.

Boats

  • It was neat to watch more than fifteen fishing boats head through Race Passage at 7:15 in the partial darkness of sunrise.
  • Two boats were fishing in the Rockfish Conservation Area, mostly between the Rosedale Rock and the South Islands for several hours today.
  • I identified them as best I could, and reported them to the DFO.
  • At times there were other boats nearby, but they seemed to be making a conscious effort to anchor outside the boundary.
  • The two offending boats made no such effort, drifting about all over the southern part of the reserve.
  • Several ecotours came by today.
  • In the evening one small aluminium boat ripped through the reserve well above the speed limit. Presumably he was late for supper?

Other

  • From about 11:50 until 13:00 I felt a series of unidentifiable booming shakes.
  • I can only assume it was DND blasting, although I saw no smoke, and it was Sunday.
Levitating boat optical illusion.

Levitating boat optical illusion.

Quiet Saturday on the Rock

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 5-15 knots North
  • Sky: overcast
  • Water: calm

Ecological

  • Saw a California Sea Lion branded with 8465.

california-8465-1-10

Maintenance

  • Reset the electric fence.
  • Removed ash from the wood stove for the season’s first light.

first-fire-1-10

Boats

  • Observed one rental boat that appeared to be fishing within the reserve.
  • Contacted Pedder Bay Marina to let them know.

 

Pearson Students and Brands

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 0-5 knots NE, later West
  • Sky: clear
  • Water: calm

Ecological

  • Saw two branded California sea lions.
  • U400 and U714.
  • Discovered a couple of recently deceased juvenile sea gulls.
  • Cause of death unknown.

Maintenance

  • The usual chores.

Boats

  • Lots of ecotours today.
  • One appeared to be going over the speed limit within the edge of the reserve.
  • Several times there were at least 3 in the Middle Channel.
  • Kyle brought two loads of students out in Second Nature.
  • One small boat was observed fishing illegally within the Rockfish Conservation area.
  • They were reported to the DFO.

Visitors

  • Kyle, Laura, 14 Pearson students, and 3 filmmakers came out.
  • The students were supposed to be doing wind and wave measurements, but Race Rocks was providing very little in that department today.

Other

  • Six pair of small DND blastings today.
  • They took place early in the hour, every hour, from the 10th until the 15th.

Proficient Pearson Painters

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 20-25 knots West
  • Sky: overcast, then sunny, then overcast
  • Water: 2′ chop

Ecological

  • Much frenetic elephant seal activity throughout the island and surrounding waters.
  • The speed with which they go from slow motion sparring to sleeping side by side is adorable.
  • One seal was even snoozing on the ramp with his head under water.
  • Between 11 and 15 elephant seals on Great Race.
  • We discovered several seagull nests with eggs in them. First ones of the year!

Maintenance

  • The four of us engaged in much painting.
  • The boathouse floor was finished, along with the derrick room floor, and the yellow on the jetty.
  • In the afternoon we used the shorefront pressure washer to remove algae from several walls.
  • As is customary out here, we cleaned off the solar panels.

Boats

  • Kyle and Guy brought out the pressure washer and various other items at 8:10.
  • One rental boat was caught fishing illegally within the reserve.
  • I called Pedder Bay Marina to inform them.
  • One coast guard boat passed through the reserve today.
  • Also a few eco-tours.

Visitors

  • Kyle and Guy briefly to drop off items.
  • In the late afternoon, Maya, Tazi, and Ali came over to the eco-guardians house for tea, cookies, and the American version of Rubber Soul.

Doing some Chores

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 15-20 knots West, later up to 35.
  • Sky: mix of sun and cloud
  • Water: 3′ chop

Ecological

  • 15 elephant seals on Great Race.
  • Quite social and entertaining today. Some of them even trying to follow me around, though they didn’t like the noise of the weed eater.
  • About half as many Canada Geese on the island today!

Maintenance

  • Did some more weed whacking along the paths.
  • Cleaned the solar panels.
  • Stacked some firewood.
  • Cleaned part of the students’ house with algicide.

Boats

  • 3 eco-tours today.
  • 1 rented pleasure craft was seen fishing to the East of Great Race, quite likely within the reserve area where no fishing is allowed.
  • The photos I took aren’t the best. I spied them fishing with the binoculars before I could grab the camera.

 

Strong Gale

Weather

  • Visibility: 15 miles
  • Wind: 0-5 knots W in the morning, by 14:00 it had jumped to 40+ knots.
  • The highest reading I saw was 48 knots, which is no longer a “strong gale” but a “storm”.
  • Sky: clear in the morning, dark clouds by evening.
  • Water: initially calm, but the wind kicked up massive waves!
  • Forecast: looks like more gale tomorrow.

48 knots winds! stormy waters!

Ecological

  • 15 elephant seals on Great Race.
  • A few California Sea Lions on the jetty today.
  • One lone crane fly was attached to a window for the second day straight. The gale blew it away.
  • The same elephant seal who blocked me outside yesterday tried the same trick again! Only this time I was already inside, so I wisely used a different door.

Maintenance

  • Goose work.
  • Weed eating. Or “whacking” if you prefer.

Boats

  • 6 eco-tours today.
  • 1 small pleasure craft had what appeared to be a family with young children fishing in the reserve. They departed very quickly before I could identify their boat, perhaps realizing their mistake independent of me?

 

Blocked out of the house!

Weather

  • Visibility: 15+ miles
  • Wind: 0-5 knots North, later 10-15 West
  • Sky: clear
  • Water: calm

Sunset last night

Ecological

  • 15 elephant seals on Great Race today.
  • For about an hour either side of noon, I was blocked out of the house by one elephant seal who insisted on sleeping against the door.
  • The two deck entrance doors to the house were both locked, and seem to require keys no longer on the main key ring.
  • One of the female elephant seals has a tag on her flipper: 980S (?)
  • Update 13 May 2016: the flipper tag was upside down. It actually says: 5086
  • A new flower has opened today, the beautiful red Gladiolus imbricatus.

Gladiolus imbricatus 2

Maintenance

  • Finished cleaning the outside of all the windows of the two dwellings.
  • Set up the new weed whacker.
  • Cleaned the solar panels.
  • A bit of goose work.

Boats

  • At least 9 eco-tours came into the reserve today.
  • Didn’t get photos of them all, as I was blocked outside for some of them.
  • One small fishing boat was fishing to the east of Great Race; it looked like it might be just inside the borders of the rockfish conservation area?
  • Two fishing boats passed through the reserve at speeds that appeared to be too fast.
  • The first of these created a very large wake near the jetty; unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a photo of the peak wake.

Other

  • Two medium DND blasts today; 9:52 & 10:15~

Recovery of species and spaces at risk.

Another glorious day at Race Rocks with westerly flow, basically a repeat of yesterday weather-wise. The barometer has dropped a bit over the evening and the wind has shifted to the southwest. Here is a graph of the atmospheric pressure that can be pulled up on the racerocks.com website. Tomorrow looks similar, windy with a chance of showers.

barometer

There were 33 tour boats today including a few that may not have been commercial. Some of the tour boats are really enormous and barely fit in the passage. There were at least 17 recreational fishers, again with some jigging by the rentals in the closed conservation area. Amazingly, a DFO patrol boat passed by and did nothing while these folks were slaying bottom fish in the reserve. I was up in the tower and couldn’t get the K-numbers as they are only painted on one side of the boat.

I did record another four sea lion brands in between chores and spotting killer whales travelling and feeding from the southwest to the southeast. There was one large bull, one little one with (probably) its mother and at least two others. I wasn’t close enough to identify them but if they were southern residents they are very endangered.

I was thinking about their chances of recovery when I noticed they were perfectly lined up with the Elwha River valley across the Strait in Olympic National Park. It reminded me of that Margaret Mead quote “Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” The recovery of the Elwha ecosystem is a remarkable story.

Not so remarkable, was the rest of my day; cleaning windows, killing flies, trying to learn how to use the camera, attempting to “train” the sea lions to get off the jetty and pursuing the regular drill of fighting entropy.

What’s your number?

It was a day without fog at Race Rocks and as the westerlies continue, some serious clouds can be seen piling up on far horizons. The barometer rose all day, which bodes well for tomorrow but there may be a few needed showers.

It was a busy day on the water with 26 whale watching boats visiting the reserve. From the expressions on the tourists’ faces, they seemed to enjoy watching the sea lions. All the skippers were respectful except for two travelling together who did not heed the go-slow zone.

There were so many recreational fishing boats that I could only keep track of the ones who were in contravention of the DFO Rockfish Conservation Area closure which runs around the reserve at a 40m depth. Many of those fishing inside the boundary were in rental boats but some of the other speed boats were doing what they do best…speeding. The Pedder Bay Marina is really good about talking to folks who rent from them and informing them about the conservation area.

I looked for tagged and branded sea lions again today and can report another nine California Sea Lions and four Stellers’ Sea Lions bringing the total number of branded individuals sighted up to 29. Eventually we will know a bit more about their stories from those numbers they carry. There are also two Stellers with neck rings cutting into their flesh and one with a flasher hanging out of its’ mouth. There are individual Harbour Seals, as well as both species of sea lions with major wounds. Speaking of wounds, there were two new, (to me), very small Elephant Seals on the ramp today, probably young of the year, judging from the size.

A few Pigeon Guillemots are still carrying into fish into the large boulder area by the jetty. The chicks must leave for sea at night as I haven’t seen any on the water and most are probably fledged by now. Each day, there are more Pelagic and Double Crested Cormorants roosting on the southwest side of the island.

The desalinator worked for a couple of hours during the sunshine today, making fresh water thanks to the solar panels.

Month end inventory was conducted today with measurements taken of all the fuel, fresh water, and equipment run times recorded.

My other task was to try and stake out a small territory on the jetty so that I can come and go and do the sampling. The elephant seals are no problem, they just sleep as you pass, or open one eye. Keeping the more belligerent California sea lions off the jetty seems to be a losing battle and has made getting out to the end of the jetty to sample seawater, extra challenging.