Canoe Islands ER #17 Overview

Posted February 22, 2006 | Categories : 17,Reports,Research |

See PDF  BC PARKS canoe islands


Physical:  The reserve 400m from the Valdes Island shoreline. These are composed of glacially smoothed sedimentary rocks of the Nanaimo Group, and lie at the eastern edge of Georgia Strait. Subtidally, strongly sloping bedrock substrates of irregular relief are interrupted by narrow sand-shell terraces. The channel between Canoe Islets and Valdes Island is about 20 m deep; depths increase rapidly to the northeast of the islets. Currents are often strong due to the proximity of Porlier Pass.
Biological:  No vascular plants are present, but crustose lichens are common in the splash zone which includes the entire rocks.
Two species of seabirds, the Double-crested Cormorant and Glaucous-winged Gull, are known to have nested here. The rocks were not known as a cormorant nesting site until the 1960s, when 30 pairs were counted. These declined to 12 in the 1970s and none in 1981, possibly due to human disturbance. Glaucous- winged Gulls began to nest on the rocks in the 1970s and about 60 pairs were present in 1981, their nesting territories covering about 50% of the land area.
Both Steller and California sea lions began using the Porlier Pass area about 1981, coincident with a general increase in numbers of both species in the Gulf of Georgia during the winter, where they prey heavily on Pacific Herring. About 100 Steller and 400-800 California sea lions were present during 1982- 1984, of which some have intermittently used Canoe Islets as a winter haul-out, particularly when disturbed from more accessible rocks in Stuart and Trincomali channels.


Climate Change:    Shrinkage of the reserve area and habitat loss will result from rising sea levels, considering the extremely low elevation of the islets (0-3m).

Recreation:    Marine vessels (motorized and not) disrupt wildlife in reserve.

Nesting sea-bird counts are available. The reserve remains available for sea-bird or spray zone ecology studies. Warden activities could include monitoring human use, sea level raise and bird populations.

Cormorant, Double-crested (Phalacrocorax auritus)
Gull, Glaucous-winged (Larus glaucescens)
Herring, Pacific (Clupea pallasii)
Sea Lion, California (Zalophus californianus)
Sea Lion, Steller (Eumetopias jubatus)
Seal, Harbour (Phoca vitulina)