Victoria Whale Watching Report: The Pinnipeds of Race Rocks Ecological Reserve & More!
October 13, 2019
On this trip, we got to visit a few ecological reserves, starting with Race Rocks Ecological Reserve.
This is one of the only Pinniped haul-out sites in the world with four different species that are regular there. Race Rocks is home to Harbour Seals, Californian Sea Lions, Steller Sea Lions, and in the spring and early summer, Northern Elephant Seals.
All of the sea lions at Race Rocks are males, as they come to hang out on the haul outs after they migrate for their mating season. These males can be very rambunctious and competitive for the best rock to sun their blubbery bellies.
Sea Lions of both varieties can spend up to 30 hours looking for food in the water, so when they haul themselves out they are conserving their much needed energy as well as warming up their blood, preparing to delve into the chilly Pacific waters once again. These guys are also what we would call opportunistic feeders, meaning that they do not have one set of food that they eat, instead, their diet is made up of over 100 different fish and invertebrates.
After Race Rocks we made our way to Trial Island. This island is special for a few reasons. Not only is it the last manned lighthouse in the region, where coastguard employees work 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off, but it is also home to the largest collection of rare and endangered vascular plants in all of British Columbia. Because this island is a plant collection, no one is allowed to step on the island in hopes of protecting it from invasive species like the all dreaded Scotch Broom. Trial Island got its name from it being the location which Navy Ships would leave from Esquimalt and sail to as a practice, or trial run, before heading out to the open sea!
It was a beautiful day on the water full of sunshine and lots of learning about the local wildlife of the area!