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Kerouard and St. James Islands (BC005)

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Kerouard and St. James Islands (BC005)

Haida Gwaii, British Columbia

Latitude 51.926°N
Longitude 131.002°W
Altitude 0 - 96m
Area 126.21km²

Site Description

The Kerouard Islands are a group of rugged, treeless islets lying south of Kunghit Island at the extreme southern tip of Haida Gwaii. They consist of three main islets and several small rocks surrounding the larger islets. The two largest islets have steep grassy slopes on their eastern sides which grade to rounded grass-covered tops. The principle grass species is Calamagrostis, with Elymus on the perimeter. In some areas, the grass tussocks reach heights of 1.5 metres. The third islet of the Kerouards is deeply dissected and comprised of ledges and bluffs completely devoid of vegetation. There is a major Steller's Sea Lion rookery occupying this islet.

St. James Island is located in close proximity to the Kerouard Islands, just off the southern tip of Kunghit Island. It exhibits vegetation that is transitional between the forested islands to the north and the exposed and treeless Kerouard Islands to the south. The northern section is forested, while the southern section is grass covered and devoid of trees.

Birds

The two largest of the Kerouard Islands support a dense colony of burrow-nesting Cassin's Auklets (4.4% of the global population). It is the second largest colony of this species in Haida Gwaii and the 4th largest of 52 island colonies along the B.C. coast. Common Murres occur in nationally significant numbers (4.6% of the western Canada population). The Kerouards are the only site in the Queen Charlotte Islands where they breed. The Islands also support about 930 Tufted Puffins, just over 1% of the national population.

A breeding pair of Peregrine Falcons (ssp. Pealei), also nest on the Kerouard Islands. This subspecies is considered nationally vulnerable. Additionally, the islands support breeding populations of Glaucous-winged Gulls, Pelagic Cormorants, and Pigeon Guillemots, although not at nationally significant levels.

The waters surrounding the Kerouard and St. James Islands are an important feeding area for marine birds. During surveys of the seabird colonies, continuous streams of 1000's of Sooty Shearwaters were seen flying between the islets. Bald Eagles frequent the islets as well.

Conservation Issues

Kerouard & St James Islands are located within the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve. Prior to the formation of this reserve, the Islands were designated as a British Columbia Provincial Ecological Reserve (since 1973). The primary threats to the area are from potential oil spills, and possible disturbance from boaters and other visitors. The spread of introduced predators (mainly raccoons, which are found on nearby Moresby Island), is also a potential threat.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Cassin's Auklet
Number Year Season
156,0001985Summer