British Columbia

British Columbia is a major destination for whale watchers. Grey Whales are seen off the west coast of Vancouver Island (Pacific Rim) in the winter, while killer whales are often observed along the islands south eastern coast. Further north along Vancouver Islands east coast, you'll find one of the world's best areas for whale watching, Johnstone Strait, just off Telegraph Cove. Orca's are the main stay here, but other species along with a wide variety of marine life can be observed. There are a number of Provincial Marine Parks in the area which can be accessed by expert paddlers. If you go, make it a point of carefully following the guidelines for observing the wildlife in the area.


Naturalists love watching as west coast salmon struggle upstream to spawn in the rivers of their birth. They are seldom alone in this persuit as the coasts eagles and bears make a point of watching for the salmon as well. There are a number of parks which have interpetive programs which include observing the salmon and there are a number of tour companies which will take you out to see the salmon, the bears and the eagles.

Gulf Islands

The Gulf Islands have what is often described as a "Mediterranean" climate. Rainy, relatively warm winters (with little or no snow) along with sunny moderate summers make for one of the finest climates in Canada. This translates into a diverse range of flora and fauna with species that are not often found this far north, such as the Gary Oak and Canada's only broad leaf evergreen tree, the coastal Arbutus. The area is a favourite of bird watchers and is a particular draw in the migration seasons. Expect to see Cormerants, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Wood Ducks and the seemingly ubiqutious Turkey Vulture plying the cliffs and mountains of the islands.

The areas waters and inter-tidal zones are home to a wealth of star fish, sea anomies, seals, sea lions and even porpoises and dolphins. Of course one of the biggest draws for nature lovers is a chance to view the Orcas as they move through the area during migration. Several companies provide boat and kayak tours in and around the islands.

Vancouver Island Birding & Wildlife Viewing

Buttertubs Marsh - Nanaimo, Central Vancouver Island

While the marsh is a man made area and essentially in the city, it still provides a surprisingly good birding area. You'll find Ruddy Ducks, Green Herons, Pied Grebes, Hooded Mergansers, Wood Ducks, American Widgeons, American Bitterns, Virginia Rails and many more. The marsh also has a nice trail for just taking a walk and getting out into nature. To get there, follow Bowen Road then take Buttertubs Drive south which will take you to one of the entrances or take Bird Sanctuary Drive to Jingle Pot Road, where you'll find several more access points. There is also a parking area on the corner of Second and Third.

Esquimal Lagoon National Wildlife Sanctuary - Victoria (Colwood), Southern Vancouver Island

One of Victoria's and the southern islands favorites for birders is the Esquimalt Lagoon. A salt water lagoon with a short channel open to the sea and a spit that reach out and encircles it. The area is of particular importance for watching waterfowl such as Mallards, Hooded Mergansers, Canvasbacks and Pintails. Also keep a look out for Black Oystercatchers, Western Sandpipers, Yellowlegs, American Wigeon, Coot and a variety of Gulls. Overhead you might sea Bald Eagles, Osprey and of course a few Turkey Vultures. Traveling out along the spit watch for a variaty of sparrows and finches along with blackbirds. You can often see the Double-crested Cormorants drying thier wings on the island just off shore - bring your glasses or scope. Rare sightings are actually fairly common in the lagoon so expect the unexpected. The lagoon is located on in Colwood beside the Fort Rodd Hill/Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site. From Highway 1 outside of Victoria take the Colwood exit and head under the highway. Turn left on Ocean Boulevard then take the road on your left about 0.5km further on which will take you to the lagoon.

Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park - Metchosin, Southern Vancouver Island

A beautiful natural setting with hiking trails and a beach as well a lovely waterfall which cascades into the lagoon. Kingfishers, sandpipers, herons and of course Canadian Geese along with warblers and juncos are a few of the over 150 species of birds which have been spotted in the area. The park's nature centre is also has nature programs available. The park is located along the southern shores of the island just west of Victoria. From Victoria follow Highway 1 and take the Colwood exit where you'll head south to Metchosin Road. Follow Metchosin Road to the park entrance and the nature centre. You can also reach the park from Metchosin Road via Duke Road where you'll turn right on Olympic View Drive.

Rocky Point Bird Observatory - Metchosin, Southern Vancouver Island

One of Canada's migration monitoring stations located at the extreme southern tip of Vancouver Island. A wealth of songbirds as well as shearwaters, puffins and murrelets may be observed, along with pelicans, oystercatchers and gulls along with many more varieties. Almost 300 species have been recorded and over 75 appear to breed in the area. Banding is done in the summer/fall but unfortunatly the area is off limits to the public. Rocky Point Bird Observatory

Gulf Islands

Whale Watching & Nature Viewing

Gulf Islands


Vancouver Coast & Mountains


Vancouver Island

Nature Links

Victoria, Vancouver Island

Gulf Islands


British Columbia

National & International

British Columbia Ecological Reserves - BC Parks - Ministry of Conservation

Click on the link above for information on any of the following reserves.

  • Anne Vallee - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Ballingall Straight - Gulf Islands
  • Bowser - Central Vancouver Island
  • Brackman Island - Southern Vancouver Island
  • Beresford Island - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Checleset Bay - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Clanninick Creek - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Claude Elliott Creek - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Cleland Island - Central Vancouver Island
  • Comox Lake Bluffs - Central Vancouver Island
  • Canoe Islet - Gulf Islands
  • Duke of Edinburgh - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Galiano Island - Gulf Islands
  • Haley Lake - Southern Vancouver Island
  • Harmony Bay - Southern Vancouver Island
  • Hudson Rock - Southern Vancouver Island
  • Klanawa River - Southern Vancouver Island
  • Ladysmith Bog - Southern Vancouver Island
  • Megan River - Central Vancouver Island
  • Misty Lake - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Mount Derby - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Mount Elliot - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Mount Maxwell - Southern Vancouver Island
  • Mount Tuam - Gulf Islands
  • Mount Tzuhalem - Southern Vancouver Island
  • Nimpkish River - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Oak Bay Islands - Southern Vancouver Island
  • Nitinat Lake - Southern Vancouver Island
  • Race Rocks - Southern Vancouver Island
  • Robson Bight - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Rose Islet - Gulf Islands
  • San Juan Ridge - Southern Vancouver Island
  • San Juan River Estuary - Southern Vancouver Island
  • Sartine Island - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Satellite Channel - Gulf Islands
  • Saturna Island - Gulf Islands
  • Solander Island - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Sutton Place - Central Vancouver Island
  • Tahsish River - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Ten Mile Point - Southern Vancouver Island
  • Trial Island - Southern Vancouver Island
  • Tsitika Mountain - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Tsitika River - Northern Vancouver Island
  • Woodley Range - Southern Vancouver Island


Conservation Lands and Wildlife Management Areas - Ministry of Conservation -
BC Parks


Gulf Islands Flora & Fauna (Abridged)

There are an endless variety of animals and plant species in the islands. This humble list is a small beginning for those of you who wish to explore the great diversity of life in the islands terrestrial and marine environments.




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