This file presents images and text from a film made by Alan Bibby for Lester B. Pearson College in the spring of 1997.


For over 130 years Race Rocks Lighthouse has stood as a beacon in the entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. But an era is coming to an end, keepers will no longer tend the light at British Columbia's oldest Imperial Lighthouse. The keepers are being replaced by automatic equipment.

Concern for the future of this environmentally sensitive area draws noted marine scientist Dr. Joe MacInnis. He is working with students from a nearby college to maintain a human presence at Race Rocks.

"The great forces are at work here that's what this lighthouse reminds us ---that we are a small, small part of this whole wild ecosystem. It's also kind of a reminder of the human frailties. If we aren't careful--watch the weather and the currents we are in trouble ."


Only 11 nautical miles from Victoria, Race Rocks is a place of convergence. Deep currents sweep the rocks and clash as they meet the inland waters of Georgia Strait. In 1860 the British Admiralty established the lighthouse in recognition of the dangerous currrents that claimed many ships and dozens of lives.Race Rocks is a paradox, a place with a history of tragedy, it is also a place of refuge and hope.

( Mike Slater)" I feel that there are light stations that they are going to be closing down where there is going to be loss of life ----- I feel that if the station is not maintained , what Pearson College has done here since 1980 will be destroyed and there will be people in here to rape the bottom. "

(Carol Slater) "We make sure when people come we meet them at the dock there, we instruct them in where they can go and where they can't go at nesting time. When the harbour seals pup-- it doesn't take much to disturb animals at that point in time, they're very vulnerable when they are looking after young. We can't underestimate the importance of protecting areas like this. "

The new eyes and conscience of Race Rocks are literally the youth of the world. Students from over 80 countries study at Pearson College. 17 years ago they took the initiative to establish this ecological reserve.

Today they're working with Dr. Joe MacInnis to establish a new marine education center at Race Rocks.



"The traditions here are the classic traditions of the sea where people come and they look out for each other, and now it's role is changing, it's going to be a kind of discovery center, people are going to come here and with the ambition of trying to understand what 's down there ."

"What is this ecosystem or this layer after layer of ecosytems? So discoveries are going to be made, especially as we climb down from the shallow depths where the diving is done today down into those deep fathoms where no one has ever been before-- but I am sure are rich with biological and geological possibility. "

"Well any major discovery whether it's in physics or physiology is made by a scientist who's driven by curiosity, that is the engine....Rachael Carson called it a "sense of wonder " and in fact that's what so nice to see out here -- with the Pearson College students-- they dive, they look into the tidepools , and they've all got that great sense of wonder, they're each establishing their own version of how this planet works, so science is going on here at many levels. "

"You're right there's so much life down there!"

"You can see the fish and those huge anemones everywhere ----It's so great there 's so much animal life down there-- it's incredible---Just amazing, --"

"You can't see bottom can you, for all the plants and fish down there. It certainly speaks for biodiversity , for an enormous complex chain of living things --and what I liked was that as you looked at it you could see the kelp swirling as if it was responding not only to the outgoing tide but getting ready for the next--"


"I looked down to the tentacle coming up from the kelp and eventually I got really close to look at the eye , it was really interesting --when the current was going this way it would open the eye away from it and when the surge went the other way it would open the other eye away from it . I think it got enough of me cause I was a bit too close and it just spread out its arms took a big swish and off on a surge it went"


"It must be the extraordinary amount of water that is going through there - it feels like ten or twenty Mississippiis or maybe Amazon rivers going in or out twice a day . but you get these upwellings nand nutrients and you get a haven for marine mammals --an underwater Serengetti which we just saw and you get this treasure of an ecosystem."


"It's like a little mountain in what is otherwise deep water around in the Strait of Juan de Fuca so we get species here normally found in thirty -forty meters of water-- they're living here at three or four meters of depth.

The most unique thing is that in such a small-- geographically small--physically small spot you can have so many different aspects of ecosystems.


You can have the totally marine ones, the intertidal ones the land ecosystems, the salt spray ones up on the rocks, you can have small tidal pools that are just an absolute mirror of all the principles of ecology, and they're all there contained in one little spot--"

"That's the kind of thing when you're looking for teaching examples--when you want the students to do interpretations of things, and you want them to look and see that there's some obvious examples of what you can see going on in that little pool-- you can quantify them, -- you can see and actually experiment with them --

-- and they can take those and examine little snips of tissues and examine them under a microscope and there is a whole fantastic world.

"They come here , they see what's here --someone like Garry inspires them and off they go to become a scientist-- a biologist a geologist or to work on behalf of the environment-- that's exciting. "

"Having a hard body like this, this is what characterises this species, the crab has outgrown its body and has had to move on----"We'll see how it is pulled in through the pores--"


"Hey Cool"


"Joe, this is one of the pools we have on the internet , we call it pool 4. ---it has some very interesting things because of this white rock here-- and in it has shown up these white periwinkles and they're not normally white --"


"Sharing that knowledge we now understand is equally as vital as coming up with the new information. So I think out here is an opportunity to drive the information through the electronic systems, whether its the internet or some future version of internet.

I would think over the next fifty years this place is going to be a great focal point for discovery.


That's where we are today, we're right on an outpost that overlooks the oceans. Seventy percent of the surface of this planet is straight out there and straight down there and we don't know very much about it. This place is going to be one of those windows that allows us to look into that ecosystem."