Wildlife


Many diverse species live in Gwaii Haanas © Parks Canada

Many of the species in Gwaii Haanas and the Haida Gwaii archipelago are endemic (unique) and are found nowhere else in the world. In fact, there are more unique sub-species on Haida Gwaii than in any other equal-sized area in Canada, and these islands are often referred to as “the Canadian Galapagos.” Distinctive sub-species of Saw-whet Owl, Hairy Woodpecker, Steller’s Jay and Peale’s Peregrine Falcon are found.

Eleven species of mammals are native to Gwaii Haanas: Black Bear, Pine Marten, River Otter, Haida Ermine, Dusky Shrew, Silver-haired Bat, California Myotis, Keen’s Myotis, Little brown Bat and Deer Mouse. The eleventh species, the Dawson Caribou, became extinct in 1908.

Gwaii Haanas is internationally recognized for its seabird populations. Approximately 1.5 million seabirds from 12 species nest on the islands, including the Ancient Murrelet, a species-at-risk, for which Haida Gwaii is the only nesting location in Canada. Cassin’s Auklets and Rhinocerus Auklets also nest in globally-significant populations. Haida Gwaii is known for its Storm Petrels and Pigeon Guillemots.

The marine area teems with life. Twenty-three species of marine mammals inhabit the surrounding waters, including whales, dolphins and the largest colony of Steller’s sea lions on Canada’s west coast. The sea otter was once plentiful but was hunted to extinction here.

There are more than 6800 species of flora and fauna on the archipelago of Haida Gwaii.