IBA SGang Gwaay
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia
Site Summary
BC010 Latitude
52.096° N
131.222° W
0 - 75 m
110.32 km²
coniferous forest (temperate), scrub/shrub
Land Use:
Not Utilized (Natural Area)
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Disturbance, Introduced species, Oil slicks
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Colonial Waterbirds/Seabird Concentrations, Nationally Significant: Congregatory Species
Conservation status: Ecological Reserve (provincial), National Park
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Site Description
SGang Gwaay (formerly called Anthony Island) Important Bird Area is located off the southwest coast of Moresby Island, west of Kunghit Island in Haida Gwaii. It is centered around SGang Gwaay and its associated offshore islets and extends out to include a marine area of 5 km radius, from Cape Freeman on the west coast of Moresby Island, to Tuga and Etches Point within Louscoone Inlet, then across the western entrance of Houston Stewart Channel to Arnold and Bowles points on Kunghit Island. Also lying within this area are Louscoone Rocks, Adam Rocks, Flatrock Island, and Gordon Islands.

SGang Gwaay is forested with a typical mix of Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock, and Western Red Cedar. Spruce is more predominant near the shore, and hemlock and cedar are more abundant inland. The forest understory is generally bare litter with some moss. Grass occurs along shoreline knolls and ridges, and scattered shrubs grow in patches throughout the island. Most of the shoreline of the island is rocky and cliff-bound. The islets range from bare rock, or rock with patches of grass and forbes, to forested islets with an understory varying from grasses to patchy or continuous dense shrubs. Gordon Islands, to the east of SGang Gwaay, are a series of rugged, dissected rocky knolls, covered with dense salal under a sparse spruce forest. Flatrock Island, Adam Rocks, and Louscoone Rocks are rocky with patches of grasses and forbes.

Surveys completed within the SGang Gwaay complex in the mid-1980's recorded globally significant numbers of both Cassin's Auklets (1.4% of the estimated global and 1.9% of the estimated national population), and Rhinoceros Auklets (2.2% of the estimated global and 3.8% of the estimated national population). An additional five seabird species are present in nationally significant numbers. The small offshore islets collectively support just over 1% of both the estimated Canadian Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel population, and the estimated western Canada Leach's Storm-Petrel population. Nationally significant numbers of Pigeon Guillemots (4.6% of the estimated Canadian population), Glaucous-winged Gulls (1.9% of the estimated Canadian population) and Black Oystercatchers (1.6% of the estimated Canadian population) nest within this group of islands.

Other species of seabirds nesting on these islands include Pelagic Cormorants, Ancient Murrelets, Tufted Puffins and Horned Puffins (fewer than 25 pairs of Horned Puffins are suspected of nesting in Canada). Peregrine Falcons (ssp. pealei) are recorded in the area and Bald Eagles nest on the SGang Gwaay complex and Gordon Islands.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Cassin's Auklet 1985 SU 50,800
Rhinoceros Auklet 1985 SU 27,542
Note: species shown in bold indicate that the maximum number exceeds at least one of the IBA thresholds (sub-regional, regional or global). The site may still not qualify for that level of IBA if the maximum number reflects an exceptional or historical occurrence.
Conservation Issues
SGang Gwaay is part of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve. The remains of the Haida village of Ninstints on the east coast of the island have earned it the designation of a United Nations World Heritage Site. The small group of islands off the southwest and northwest coasts of SGang Gwaay, bound by the 10 fathom contour, were designated as a Provincial Ecological Reserve in 1979.

Primary threats to the area are from potential oil spills, and possible disturbance from boaters and other visitors. The spread of introduced predators (raccoons), which are found on nearby Moresby Island, is a potential threat.

The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Birds Canada and Nature Canada.
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