Sea Otter Awareness Week

September 24-30, 2017

Spending their lives in the water, sea otters are ingenuous and fascinating creatures that use rocks as tools, and kelp as safety lines. The last week of September is an annual recognition of the sea otters as a marine keystone species ensuring healthy and balanced kelp beds in the near-shore coastal waters of the Northern Pacific Ocean. An important predator in the coast waters food chain, they spend their lives in the water in the kelp beds near shore and ensuring a healthy and balanced system.

While sea otters are rare in the waters off of southern tip of Vancouver Island, I was lucky enough to take a wilderness tour with Eagle Wing Tours earlier this year and we observed one special sea otter sunning itself with group of seals on the rocks of Race Rocks Ecological Reserve just south of Victoria, BC.

Sea otter at Race Rock Ecological Researve

Sea otters have fascinated me since I was a child and saw them at the Vancouver Aquarium, though it didn’t register how endangered they were in the wild at the time and how lucky we are they are in our waters again. The sea otter’s thick fur was highly prized and they were hunted to extinction along the BC coast by the fur trade of the 1700s and 1800s. They were reintroduced to west coast of Vancouver Island between 1969 and 1972 with a group of 89 Alaskan otters. Now numbering around 5,000 in BC, sea otters are now listed as ‘special concern’ rather than endangered, though some populations are still at grave risk. They continue to face threats from oil spills as well as changing diets of predators such as orca whales. We need to continue our efforts of conservation and awareness to ensure that these beautiful creatures continue to thrive.

As I’m not a scientist and have limited knowledge, I encourage to check out the many resources available and learn more about these special creatures.

Fall is Around the Corner

The morning air is crisp and the leaves are starting to turn. Things are getting back into routine after a busy summer of vacation fun. It’s a wonderful time to get the family together, have some fun and capture this time together forever. The beaches are quieter and the parks filled fall colours.

Book your session before the end of September and receive a $50 print credit on any order print and product order placed before October 31, 2017.

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Victoria Family Photographer Suzi Smart focuses on lifestyle photography of children and families at the beautiful beaches and parks of the Victoria and Saanich area.

A Beautiful Summer

At the beginning of the summer, I asked my husband and son for three [realistic] things each they’d really like to do this summer. Adding three of my own wishes as well as a couple of  this became the core of our bucket list. While it was in the back of my mind when we were planning, it was then kind of forgotten in the busyness of everyday, spontaneous trips and unexpected events popping up.

Halfway through August, we were feeling a little down that with Labour Day fast approaching, summer was almost over. It felt that it had gone by too fast without accomplishing all that we wanted to do. I pulled out our list – “What could we do in the final couple of weeks before school started, so that we would feel better about how we spent our summer?” To our utter surprise and delight, most of our list was done. We had done a lot of what we’d wanted. What was left could be done with one last weekend trip.

So with the three day long weekend ahead of us, we headed north to Parksville/Qualicum. A swim in the ocean had been on my list and though we’d spent a lot of time at the beach and wading, I hadn’t gone swimming. The warm waters of Parksville, as the afternoon tide came in over the warm sands was perfect for a refreshing swim after our trip up. One of my son’s summer wishes was to stay at Qualicum Bay Resort – it has a bulldozer in the playground which for my construction loving son is the ultimate. The fact there’s also always lots of kids his age, a zipline and is close to the beach makes it one of his favourite places to stay, so when it had a site open it was no question where we’d stay.

Thanks to the wonderful crew at Outsider Adventures, we had a sunset kayak (check) then kayaked the next morning across to Denman Island and back. Knowing our son’s kayak ability on the open sea, opens up a world of adventures for next summer. I’m thinking that we’ll be spending a lot of time on the water next year.

On our last afternoon in the area, with temperatures in the mid-thirties, we explored the amazingly cool Horne Lake Caves (check). As we had no idea whether our son would enjoy caving or be claustrophobic within the dark walls of the caves, we opted for the self-guided tour this year. However, his utter amazement and fascination with of the wonders of the dark, has me looking at some of the more intensive guided tours for next year.

With back to school, back to work and with launching Suzi Smart Photography to the Victoria area, it’s sure to be a busy fall. But we’re sure to balance the work with more adventures as we’re looking to explore more of the area during our first autumn on the Island. We’ve decided that we’ll definitely make fall bucket list, for whether we used it consciously or not, our summer list worked. We now look back at this summer with a smile that we spent it as we wanted rather than it just passing by. What is your favourite fall activity? Do you have a bucket list? How do you decide what makes the list?

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