The first marine National Wildlife Area
Canadian Wildlife Service and Science and Technology Branch
Established in 2018, the Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area (NWA) is the first protected marine area established under the Canada Wildlife Act. Located off the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island, the islands and the surrounding marine waters support millions of seabirds as part of one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on Canada’s Pacific coast. The Province of British Columbia has protected the terrestrial parts of the Scott Islands since the 1970s, while the Scott Islands marine NWA conserves the surrounding 11,546 square kilometres of marine environment.
Work by biologists and researchers from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service and Wildlife Research Division spans 6 decades and provides a valuable long-term dataset to inform conservation. Most research in the Scott Islands NWA occurs on Triangle Island: a treeless, steep, and windswept island that forms the furthest reaches of the Scott Islands archipelago. This remote and rugged rock hosts large colonies of Cassin’s auklets, tufted puffins, rhinoceros auklets, and common murres. The research on Triangle Island has evolved over the decades. There were a few research projects in the 1970s, a comprehensive seabird monitoring program in the 1980s, and collaborations with the Centre for Wildlife Ecology at Simon Fraser University in the 1990s. All of these efforts resulted in efforts to designate the marine NWA in the 2010s. Collectively, the work in this area represents the most comprehensive seabird research and monitoring program in Pacific Canada. In fact, a surprising number of our seabird biologists and research scientists successfully fledged from programs on Triangle Island.
The research and monitoring conducted by ECCC scientists in the Scott Islands provides key long-term information about seabird ecology on the Pacific Coast and addresses information gaps in how and why seabird populations change in response to their environment.
Ongoing studies include:
- assessing seabird diets and demography
- tracking studies to identify key seabird foraging areas
- population monitoring
- studies of contaminants
This research and monitoring allows us to assess the impact of human activities such as pollution and ecosystem impacts from climate change. It also supports the ongoing conservation and management of marine protected areas.
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