Great Canadian Parks / British Columbia

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The Parks / British Columbia / Pacific Rim National Park Reserve



 


 

By simply strolling the hard-packed sand of Long Beach, you can catch sight of sea lions, seals, schools of porpoise and pods of orca whales, all of which exhibit predictable patterns of movement and behaviour. Grey whales, on the 8000 kilometre spring migration from their December breeding and calving lagoons in Baja, Mexico to the summer feeding grounds of the Bering and Chukchi seas pass through the park. Some of the 1900 animals making the trip, the only significant population of grey whales in the world, spend the summer in Canadian waters, feeding off the bottom life around the kelp beds, before heading south again for the winter. International protection was given the grey whale in 1947 and they have made an impressive comeback from virtual annihilation by commercial whalers in the early 1900’s. The sea otter, which was virtually extinct by 1830, its pelt being so highly prized by fur traders, has been re- introduced from surviving colonies in Alaska and should eventually populate the park’s waters. Migrating shorebirds, including the Trumpeter swan and sandhill crane, find critical habitat in the region’s estuaries. Most of the 250 species of birds identified are migrants; however, there are 54 breeding residents of the park, including red-throated loons, Brant’s and pelagic cormorants, great blue herons, oystercatchers and gulls. Runs of salmon, schools of herring, cod, sole, and halibut are of interest to sports fishermen, but in park waters, fishing is allowed only from the shore. Scuba divers may catch a few crab and abalone, but the toxic ‘red tide’ often prohibits eating them or the clams, mussels and oysters that can be gathered in spite of the park’s efforts to protect resources. At low tide, the tide pools in rocky areas are a marvel of brightly coloured anemones, starfish, barnacles and tiny darting fish.



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