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‘Polar bears’ under watchful eye of Sooke’s marine search and rescue team

RCMSAR members help out at annual Polar Bear Swim
Swimmers head for dryland – and warmth – at the annual Polar Bear Swim in Sooke on Jan. 1. (File - Sooke News Mirror)

Claire Wollen | Contributed

Kicking off 2023 with a bang from a small but mighty cannon, crew from Sooke’s Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) Station 37 were pleased to return to the Polar Bear Swim at Whiffin Spit on New Year’s Day.

The Polar Bear Swim, hosted by Otter Point Firefighters Association, was back after a two-year absence due to COVID-19.

Two RCMSAR members were on the beach, watching for any revellers on land or in the water who might be in difficulty. Two additional members were on the sea in one of the RCMSAR Station 37, two rigid hull inflatable vessels customized for search and rescue operations.

Fortunately, the weather was favourable, although the water was no doubt chilly.! No rescues were required, and approximately 100 “polar bears” and many enthusiastic cheerleaders and onlookers enjoyed this popular Sooke event.

Sooke’s RCMSAR Station 37 objectives include promoting search and rescue prevention and awareness in the Sooke Region, supporting the Canadian Coast Guard and its search and rescue mandate, and maintaining the highest professional standards through regular ongoing training.

RCMSAR Station 37 welcomes new volunteers for a variety of roles. To learn more, please check out the group’s Facebook page. If you wish to support the society financially, you can donate through Canada Helps using the link on Facebook.

For more information on becoming a supporting member of the society, please email with “Supporting Member Information” in the subject line, or visit us at the upcoming volunteer fair at Edward Milne Community School on Feb. 11.


Claire Wollen writes for the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue in Sooke.

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