SHOAL HARBOUR SANCTUARY, part of the Southern Salish Sea IBA network

courtesy of Kerry Finley:
If you take a walk on Lochside, you’ll find an IBA sign, featuring the Heerman’s Gull and fellow inhabits of our waterfront.
I’ve been a Caretaker of “Sidney Channel” IBA since its inception. It got charged up with the energy of Krista Englund, and is being recharged with the new BC Coordinator, Krista Kaptein. Rob Gray, the new Co-Caretaker in training, is absorbing some of the deep cultural and natural history of the area.
One of our outstanding migratory guests is the Heerman’s Gull, at the northern most extension of its range, hailing from its single breeding colony, Isla Rasa, in the Sea of Cortez. It was Krista Englund who saw her first “HEEG” on the Salish Sea, which is how it got its name, Here Man, now. Krista was so impressed she introduced the “Sombrero Gull” to our local councils, who were so impressed they placed an IBA sign with its Heerman’s Gull on the most prominent promenade overlooking the IBA. We are hoping to re-kindle our international connection to our Sister IBA Isla Rasa, and are now working on a cooperative monitoring program with the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Coastal Waterbird Survey on Surfside’s “Isla Heerman”.
We are blessed with this vista of Mount Baker and three reefs on Surfside Bay that constitute essential roosts for Heerman’s Gulls, and a diversity of seabirds and shorebirds. This is the first glimpse that millions of tourists have of Vancouver Island as they rush to and from the ferries ( both domestic and international) and the airport.
We are fortunate too that this IBA is contiguous with Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, one of the oldest migratory bird sanctuaries on Vancouver Island, along with our Sister Sanctuaries in Victoria and Esquimault Lagoon. As Jaques Sirois, the energetic chair of Victoria MBS has rightly claimed, we Three Sister Sanctuaries on the Southern Salish Sea have the best urban wildlife viewing opportunities in Canada, and yet few are aware of it, and its possibilities. Jacques has led the way in developing inspirational artworks in Victoria Harbour sanctuary and demonstrating connectivity within the framework of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
In this centenary of the first International Migratory Bird Convention, we are hopeful that Canada will renew it commitment to the protection of these important habitats. “Caretakers” have helped to pave the way. If you have questions, contact Krista Kaptein, IBA Coordinator <>.

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