Here’s Who You’ll Meet Lounging at Race Rocks Lighthouse
August 23, 2017
For some reason my first experience at Race Rocks Lighthouse brought me back in time a hundred years. I’ve always had an unexplained fascination with pre-industrial marine traffic, and I’ve probably listened to one too many podcasts about infamous shipwrecks caused by a combination of total darkness and destructive rocks.
That’s not to say I was worried when I hopped on a zodiac whale watching tour this summer for a visit to Race Rocks. Excited? Sure. Curious? Absolutely.
In fact, it was a rush in more ways than one. What becomes crystal clear when you approach Race Rocks is the turmoil beneath the waves. After all, the name Race Rocks is well earned. Captain Nicholas navigated the chop with ease, letting the zodiac float naturally with the ebb of the current and kicking in some gas when necessary. We rotated effortlessly through the surf to get a 360 degree view of our surroundings, which included more than a few visitors kicking their feet up on the natural rock formations bordering the famous lighthouse.
So who did we meet?
Two Enormous Elephant Seals
There’s a small natural inlet that leads to a boat launch at Race Rocks which, at first, I thought was blocked by a huge boulder. I knew that wasn’t the case when the boulder lifted its head to take a look at the curious visitors in the speedy red boat. The sheer size of this animal, slacking off on its belly with half its head submerged in the waves was something I simply was not prepared for.
Nor was I prepared for a second elephant seal that bobbed its head above the surface much closer to us only a few moments later!
Elephant seals aren’t actually a common sight for most visitors, so we were definitely lucky! Although something tells me these guys aren’t in a rush to move on any time soon.
One Mischievous Sea Otter
Another of my many surprises of the day was the fact the animal that excited me the most was also the smallest.
It was difficult to spot at first despite Cap’n Nick pointing him or her out to us because it was camouflaged in what looked like the most comfortable bed of sea kelp ever. But sure enough, after staring hard enough, there it was as plain as day, much closer than I thought. As the sea kelp floated by quickly on the current, nestled comfortably on its back in the middle of the tangle was a furry sea otter scrubbing its face with its tiny paws. Yes, I’m not ashamed to say I released an audible awwwwwwwww!
Two Epic Bald Eagles
I’ve seen plenty of bald eagles patrolling the skies of the lower mainland and it’s always pretty cool. That said, seeing an eagle soaring high above the Trans Canada highway is a lot different than experiencing two of these huge birds perched on the windswept rocks of a tiny inaccessible (to humans) rocky island.
This pair of eagles, mated for life, represents a promising resurgence in the bald eagle population of the area. I’ll never forget the image of the duo perched still and powerful, feathers flapping in the breeze, ready to take off at any moment.
A Million Seals
Ever arrived at your home to see your kids draped across the furniture in various configurations?
That’s what it’s like to come across the seal population of Race Rocks. The lighthouse might be a visiting or resting place to Elephant Seals, Sea Otters, and Bald Eagles, but for the seal population of the area, it sure seems like home.
And fortunately for us we’re invited over any time!
As long as we promise not to crash.