This very special place, called XwaYeN (pronounced shwai’yen), was established as an ecological reserve in 1980. Race Rocks Ecological Reserve protects intertidal and subtidal communities that are extremely rich as a result of the strong tidal currents in the area.
The protected area is an important teaching site for the Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific, comprised of a marine area of 251.40 hectares extending down to 120 feet, and a land area of 0.5 hectares (total 251.90 hectares).
Race Rocks Ecological Reserve is located 17 kilometres southwest of Victoria at the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and is the most southerly part of Canada’s Pacific coast. One of its nine islets is the site of Race Rocks Light station, the second oldest lighthouse in Western Canada.
Named for its strong tidal currents and rocky reefs, Race Rocks is a showcase for Pacific marine life, featuring whales, sea lions, seals, birds and a dazzling array of underwater plants and animals. Cold, nutrient-rich waters from the depths of the Pacific Ocean are forced upwards to the surface in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Fast-moving water with eddies and whirlpools at Race Rocks supports an ecosystem very rich in marine mammals, fish, invertebrates and birds.