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Wildlife of Haida Gwaii: Canada’s Galapagos

Wildlife of Haida Gwaii: Canada’s Galapagos. Haida Gwaii is an archipelago of greater than 200 islands off Canada’s northern Pacific coast. Haida Gwaii consists of two predominant islands, Graham Island (Kiis Gwaay) within the north and Moresby Island within the south, together with many smaller islands.

The islands are separated from the mainland to the east by the shallow Hecate Strait. Nicknamed “Canada’s Galapagos,” these islands assist a few of North America’s most biodiverse ecosystems and wildlife. The islands have a wealthy and sophisticated ecological panorama, with species that may’t be discovered anyplace else on Earth.

Haida Gwaii: Islands on the Fringe of the World

Totem poles made by Indigenous inhabitants in Canada on the beautiful SGang Gwaay Village

SGang Gwaay Village © Eddy Savage

With a wealthy human historical past that dates again 13,000 years, the unique inhabitants of those lands, the Haida Nation, have used Conventional Ecological Data and different practices to take care of considerate and religious stewardship of the land and water.

In 1993, the Council of the Haida Nation and the Authorities of Canada agreed to make the South Moresby space, which incorporates the southernmost a part of Moresby Island and a number of other adjoining islands and islets, federally protected because the Gwaii Haanas Nationwide Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Website.

In 2010, the adjoining marine waters obtained safety with the institution of the Gwaii Haanas Nationwide Marine Conservation Space Reserve. The Gwaii Haanas Nationwide Park Reserve, Haida Heritage Website and the Gwaii Haanas Nationwide Marine Conservation Space Reserve, collectively known as Gwaii Haanas, characterize 15% of the Haida Gwaii islands.

Gwaii Haanas is internationally acknowledged for the ecological and cultural safety of greater than 500 recognized Haida heritage websites. For instance, the village of Nang Sdins Llnagaay (Ninstins) on SGang Gwaay (Anthony Island) is a UNESCO World Heritage Website. The remaining monumental poles and structure honor the residing tradition handed down by Haida ancestors.

Aquatic Life 

A cruise or kayak by Gwaii Haanas will reveal a marine ecosystem teeming with life. Whale-watching alternatives are ample, as grey and humpback whales go by Haida Gwaii yearly on their spring migration towards their summer season feeding grounds additional north.

Sail boat travels through the Canadian Galapagos

© Eddy Savage

You is perhaps fortunate sufficient to catch a glimpse of dolphins as they trip bow waves or hear the wholesome populations of sea lions as they bark from rocky outposts.

Sea lions swimming and lounging in the sun on a rocky outcrop in Canada

© Eddy Savage

Twenty species of marine mammals have been recorded in Gwaii Haanas. This contains the migrating grey, humpback, sei, fin, minke and blue whales, harbor porpoises, Dall’s porpoises and Pacific white-sided dolphins. Orcas are seen recurrently and hunt as apex predators.

Breaching humpback whale

Breaching humpback whale © Eddy Savage

Sea otters, as soon as ample on this space, at the moment are extinct as a consequence of overhunting. The plentiful waters surrounding Gwaii Haanas host the biggest colony of Steller’s sea lions on Canada’s west coast, in addition to northern fur seals. Each harbor seals and sea lions feed on the wholesome populations of squid and herring.

Sea lions swimming and lounging in the sun on a rocky outcrop in Canada

© Eddy Savage

The magic doesn’t cease on the floor. This marine realm showcases a rare variety of ecological options, habitats and creatures, primarily as a consequence of its isolation and the truth that many areas escaped glaciation. Haida Gwaii is exclusive in that it has many vibrant intertidal zones that host a kaleidoscope of life.

Twice a day, the receding tide reveals limpets, periwinkle snails, mussels, chitons and extra. The shorelines have risen and fallen all through the island’s geological historical past. Many islands now above sea stage had been as soon as beneath it and vice versa.

Colorful intertidal zone in Canada

© Eddy Savage

Beneath the waters of the Hecate Strait lies a former tundra-like panorama formed by rivers, lakes and seashore terraces that had been submerged after sea ranges rose following the final Ice Age. Off the west coast of Gwaii Haanas is the Queen Charlotte Basin, a structural basin beneath the western Canadian continental shelf.

An adorable harbor seal in Southern California's Channel Islands swims out of the kelp and briefly stares into my camera for a picture.

This shelf drops eight thousand ft to a continental slope and deep ocean abyss. These “ecological edges” are perfect for organic richness and have supported complicated and interdependent colonies of hundreds-year-old coral forests, anemones, snails, crabs and decades-old rockfish. Kelp forests present a habitat for a lot of of those species, together with sea stars and marine worms.

A Birders Paradise

The shorelines and forests of Haida Gwaii present vital meals, shelter and breeding habitat for nicely over 200 hen species. The islands are located alongside the Pacific flyway, and dozens of species of migrating birds cease right here in spring and fall.

Bird flies over sparkling waters in Canada

© Eddy Savage

An estimated 1.5 million seabirds name Haida Gwaii house, and it has develop into internationally acknowledged for its seabird populations. Roughly half of those seabirds could be present in Gwaii Haanas.

Eagle flying at coast, Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District, Haida Gwaii, Graham Island, British Columbia, Canada

Twelve species of seabirds nest on the islands, together with the at-risk historical murrelet, for which Haida Gwaii is the one nesting location in Canada. Gwaii Haanas harbors about 750,000 nesting seabirds from Might to August, together with sandpipers, geese, murrelets, petrels, cormorants, and tufted and horned puffins.

In addition to comparatively excessive concentrations of bald eagles and peregrine falcons. Endemic species embody pine grosbeak, sooty music sparrow, northern saw-whet owl, Queen Charlotte bushy woodpecker and Steller’s jay subspecies.

Rhinocerous Auklet with Sand Lance

Rhinocerous auklet with sand lance. © Eddy Savage


Ten land mammals are native to the islands, and 6 of these are subspecies which are discovered nowhere else on Earth. This contains the black bear, pine marten, river otter, Haida ermine, dusky shrew, silver-haired bat, California myotis, eager’s myotis, little brown bat and deer mouse. The eleventh species, the Dawson caribou, grew to become extinct in 1908.

Pine marten with wet fur climbing on mossy trees in Canada

Pine marten

The Haida Gwaii black bear is the one bear discovered on the archipelago at present. These bears have thrived on a wealthy food regimen of salmon and hard-shelled intertidal creatures for therefore lengthy that they’ve developed bigger jaws and tooth than their mainland counterparts. The Haida Gwaii black bear is the biggest in North America.

Black Bear foraging at low tide near Tofino, Vancouver Island, B

There are greater than 6,800 wildlife species within the Haida Gwaii archipelago. The islands are wealthy with temperate rain forests of hemlock, spruce and cedar. The alpine meadows and rocky marine habitats of Gwaii Haanas assist wholesome fungal, plant and animal life. Teeming with life, Haida Gwaii is the vacation spot for explorers searching for a wildlife expedition of a lifetime. Expertise wildlife from the shore, the skies and the water.

Tow (Taaw) Hill, a beautiful ancient volcanic plug remnant in Na

Tow (Taaw) Hill, an historical volcanic remnant.



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