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National Marine Conservation Areas of Canada

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Canada’s National Marine Conservation Areas System Plan

Canada’s Pacific Marine Wildlife

Illustration showing 26 marine species which can be found beneath the waters of Canada's Pacific Ocean
Pacific marine wildlife
© Parks Canada / Dorothea Kappler, 1995

The year-round absence of sea ice, combined with the relatively uniform temperatures and the nutrient-rich waters flowing through the system, result in a very diverse fauna.

Marine invertebrate diversity is the richest in Canada – some 3800 species – more than three times the number of species on the Atlantic coast and represents about 3.5% of the world's marine invertebrates.

Over 400 species make up the fish fauna. For the most part, they are quite distinct from the Atlantic fauna and include such species as the rockfishes, lingcod, Irish Lords, greenlings, kelpfish and five species of Pacific salmon.

Significant portions of the world population of various seabirds breed here – 25% of the rhinocerous auklets, 40% of the ancient murrelets and 70% of the Cassin's auklets. Millions of ducks, geese, swans, loons, shorebirds and seabirds stop over to feed and rest while on migration or winter in these waters.

The abundant resources attract a seasonal variety of cetaceans– grey, minke, humpback and orca whales, harbour and Dall's porpoises and Pacific white-sided dolphins. Harbour seals and Steller sea lions are common while California sea lions and sea otters are more localized.

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