The southern Strait of Georgia study area is rich in marine biodiversity and, together with Saanich Inlet, is highly representative of the larger Strait of Georgia marine region. The mixing of fresh water from the Fraser River and ocean waters creates a nutrient-rich and highly productive marine environment.

Marine Life

Hermit crab and brittle star Hermit crab and brittle star
© Parks Canada

The region's marine life is among the most diverse in the world's temperate waters. This ecosystem is home to many marine species that thrive in the rocky reefs, lush kelp beds, protected bays, and fast water channels of the Gulf Islands. Sub-tidal communities support thousands of species of marine invertebrates, such as anemones, sea urchins, sand dollars, crabs, sea stars, and the largest octopus in the world.

Many fish occupy these waters, including herring, five species of Pacific salmon, Pacific cod, walleye Pollock, lingcod, and various species of flatfish and rockfish.

Marine mammals and birds are plentiful. Seals, river otters and sea lions are common. Killer whales, harbour porpoise and Dall's porpoise live here and, in summer, gray, minke, and humpback whales visit. Gull and cormorant colonies and breeding sites for bald eagles, oystercatchers and pigeon guillemots are found throughout the area. The marine waters are particularly important for loons, cormorants, grebes, murres, gulls and ducks.

The proposed boundary waters support some endangered or potentially threatened marine species such as southern resident killer whales, abalone, harbour porpoises and gray whales.


Boaters arriving in Canada stop at the customs dock on South Pender Island Boaters arriving in Canada stop at the customs dock on South Pender Island
© Parks Canada / Nicholas Irving

The southern Strait of Georgia supports commerce that ranges from commercial and sport fisheries, to commercial shipping, to the growth industry of coastal tourism.


World-class recreational opportunities abound in these rich coastal waters, for scuba divers, boaters, kayakers, fishers and others.