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MARINE MAMMALS
IN THE RACE ROCKS MARINE PROTECTED AREA





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January, 2013: I have added a new updated section on Marine mammals on the log site.. click on the dropdown menu called Race Rocks Plants and Animals at the top of http://www.racerocks.ca/wp/

The following marine mammals each have separate pages for pictures and information. See the taxonomy files linked.


NORTHERN SEA LION
(formerly known as
Steller's Sea Lion)
Eumetopias jubata
Video Clips of Sea lions by Cam Wilson In October of 1998, Cam Wilson of Victoria made an Hi-8 video
of Northern and California sea lions while diving off West Race Rocks. Included here are clips from this exceptional underwater footage.

Video of Northern sea lions below the tower.
June 13
Sea Lions and Divers

Sea lions make their appearance twice in this archived video- originally part of a live webcast.


Acrobatic moves of sea lions underwater
These photos are from underwater video footage taken by David Roman, (PC '98) November,1997

Fishing Flasher hazard
EFFECTS OF DND BLASTING at Bentinck Island Sea lion disruption on middle island by DND blasting

Still images of counts before and after blasts

Radio tracking Devices on Sea Lions

and Branding of Sea Lions.

See the Northern Sea Lion Taxonomy File

CALIFORNIA SEA LION
(Zalophus californianus) California Sea Lions near the Docks
Red Tailed Hawk Strange behaviour of a Red Tail Hawk which died after landing in front of a sea lion.
Photo by Arthur Radtke
The California Sea Lions come back in large numbers from the outer coast as of the end of August. By the end of September they often number over 1000 animals. This pattern has been repeated almost every year. See Camera 3 for close ups at this time. See the robotic camera to scan the middle rocks and West Race Rocks where most of them haul out regularly. In September 1999, this sealion, with a plastic hoop around his neck, was photographed from the docks at Race Rocks by MPA Guardian Carol Slater.
Sea Lion Taxonomy File

ELEPHANT SEAL
(Mirounga angustirostris)

elephant seal femalesThroughout the winter of 1997, two female elephant seals stayed just south of the tower on Great Race Rock. In February, these four females and at times three others hauled out on the middle island, north of Great Race Rock. In 2001, two and sometimes three large males were on the island along with three or four females. They occupied this position on the middle island through the summer and into the fall of 2001 and did the same in 2002 and 2003.

Photo by Arthur Radtke







Photo by Jane Johnston

male elephant seal female elephant seal
injured elephant seal recovered elephant seal
elephant seal See the daily log for more information on this elephant seal above and his recovery

In 2001, two large males were on the middle island from February thorough to June. They were often accompanied by three or four smaller females. One male stayed on into September.

MOULTING ELEPHANT SEALS-BEWARE:

Elephant seals will also haul out on the sand beaches in the Victoria Area, within a few kilometers of Race Rocks. They do this during the juvenile moult, at which time they look very emaciated, and ill. After a month of lying on the beach, flipping up sand to keep away insects, while their skin peels off, they start to look healthy again and then move offshore to rejoin a colony. In 1995 and 1996 there was an influx of moulting juveniles on the local beaches. One such elephant seal on Taylor beach in Metchosin was reported to the local SPCA as being very sick. In their ignorance, the SPCA obtained the services of a fisheries officer who was not familiar with the behavior of these animals to shoot the animal. Local residents who had watched the animal for the previous month while it was undergoing the moult were outraged! They had studied it daily and had noted the gradual change from blotchy, peeling skin with open sores to a new coat Such needless destruction can be avoided if people will just leave these creatures alone. Somehow humans have this uncontrollable urge to "fix" things rather than letting natural systems operate on their own.

The elephant seals usually occupy the highest part of the island while the other sea lions were interspersed around them. We have had up to 10 female elephant seals here at once and since the summer of 1999, 2 and often 3 males have been observed on the Middle island.
See the Elephant Sea Taxonomy File


HARBOUR SEALS
(Phoca vitulina)

harbour seals on the shoreline

Mother and baby seal in August of 1998. Three mother and baby combinations stayed very close to the jetty area throughout August of 1998. In July 2001, Carol reports that she believes at least one of the mothers is the same one who turns up here every year. A lazy day on the boat ramp at Race Rocks




Upwards of 200 harbour seals occupy the islands year round at Race Rocks, bearing their young in June or July. In July of 2001- over 400 seals were present daily in the MPA.

Wherever seal haul-out areas are located, but especially where pups are born, the boating public must be extremely careful to avoid collision.

PLEASE DRIVE SLOWLY and BE AWARE !
Pups are very vulnerable in their first year of life to being run over by motor boats.
See this CASE STUDY for an example of a marine mammal collision.
LET NATURE TAKE IT'S COURSE!
It is important that people do not disturb or pick up baby seals from the shoreline in order to "help" them. These seals face a life of dependency on humans if they are "rehabilitated". Touching them ensures that the mother will not return .
I At Race Rocks we have a policy of "non-interference" meaning that abandoned baby seals will not be "rescued and rehabilitated" This may appear to be cruel to some, but we believe this policy is essential in the management of a protected area
Harbour seals on West Coast of the island Harbour Seal underwater at West Race Rocks Further underwater video footage of the harbour seals at Race Rocks can be found on the UNDERWATER SAFARI site.
eagleat 56kJuvenile Bald Eagle eating a harbour seal

ALASKAN FUR SEAL
(Callorhinus ursinus)
This picture was taken in 1980 by Trev and Flo Anderson, lightkeepers at Race Rocks. They reported that "Frosty" was a winter resident for the 8 years leading up to their departure from the station in 1982. This species has not been reported recently on the islands. Two California Sea Lions are on the right.

See the taxonomy file: for the Alaskan Fur Seal



RIVER OTTER
(Lutra canadensis)
For many years a family of river otters have lived under the buildings and pathways at Race Rocks, and in a pile of rocks produced when the Coast Guard blasted the island to build the helicopter pad in the late 1970's. In a period of two weeks in July, 1998 the otter family systematically wiped out all the nests of black oystercatchers and the seagulls. They were even seen to be after the nests of the pigeon guillemots, as they were observed pulling away rocks from the entrance area to the guillemot nests. This was a real tragedy for the island, and one that was probably assisted by the availability of human-made habitat for the otters. It is unlikely that they would be so successful on such an exposed island, as most natural river otter habitat in this area is in small inlets and bays. A policy of elimination of what is the " human-provided habitat" is being carried out now at Race Rocks. Holes under buildings are being sealed . Where normally 150 gull chicks would be raised at Race Rocks, not one survived this predation. It is not known whether any of the guillemots survived. Two partly eaten carcasses of adult black Oystercatchers were also found near their nests and all the young had disappeared. By the 2003 nesting season the otters had left. There was a successful hatch in that year and in 2004. We hope that the river otters stay over in the Pedder bay Area from now on.

Killer Whale

(Orcinus orca)


The Whale Watch Operators Association North West Guidelines For Viewing

WHALE WATCHING GUIDE: FISHERIES AND OCEANS
DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES AND OCEANS GUIDELINES FOR VIEWING
JOURNAL AND NEWSPAPER ARTICLES ON MARINE MAMMAL HARASSMENT

Ecotourism
Ecotourism at Race Rocks


ORCA NECROPSY
Nov. 99
ORCAS at RACE ROCKS- Early Photo of Orca and Race Rocks


TAXONOMY FILE
Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) humpback

Gray Whale

Eschristius robusta


This link to our Gray Whale page provides more information on one animal from the area, now serving as an educational skeletal mount at Lester Pearson College
whale ribs
whale ribs
Dall's porpoises
(Phocoenoides dalli)
Frequently sited in the surrounding waters see link for photos.

Minke Whales, Balaenoptera acutorostrata These whales are often seen in the area but we have yet to get a picture of them



EDUCATIONAL IDEAS
for Projects on Marine Mammals
See the Race Rocks Taxonomy - and prepare a chart of the classification of the marine mammals from Race Rocks
Hint : Using the drop down menu
--start Animalia-> Chordata
OCEANQUESTOCEANQUEST:
A GIS-based inquiry

RACE ROCKS ONLINE LESSON PLANS
for
THE JASON PROJECT
See this lab on sea lion ETHOLOGY- a quantitative study of behaviour. Marine Mammal references IN THE RACE ROCKS ECOLOGICAL OVERVIEW, 1999

Outside LINK to Marine Mammal Science References: Ecotourism link

Link to Body Weights and Water and Food Consumption Rates
Energy
requirement

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