IBA Nootka Island banks
Yuquot, British Columbia
Site Summary
BC083 Latitude
49.657° N
126.826° W
0 m
833.65 km²
open sea, coastal cliffs/rocky shores (marine)
Land Use:
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Fisheries, Harvesting, Oil slicks
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Threatened Species, Congregatory Species, Nationally Significant: Colonial Waterbird/Seabird Concentrations
Conservation status:
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Site Description
Nootka Island Banks on the west coast of Nootka Island, west of Vancouver Island, is primarily an area of exposed outer coast - jagged rocks, gravelly beaches with several major river outflows, long flat intertidal rock shelves, and intermittent but regular grassy meadows. On each end of Nootka Island the IBA curves inland: in the north to included the mouths of Nuchatlitz and Esperanza Inlets, and in the south, Yuquot and much of Bligh Island. In the north, all of Nuchatlitz Provincial Park is included and half of Catala Island Marine Provincial Park. These areas have a wider diversity of habitat - tidal mudflats, calm interior lagoons and many islands and reefs. Huge Sitka spruce dominate along the outer coast with a substantial inter mixture of ancient red cedars, western hemlock and Douglas-fir and a scattering of shore pine and red alder. The boundaries of the IBA extend offshore to encompass about 10 km of shallow offshore waters. There are extensive algae and kelp beds along the coastline. Bajo Reefs are included within the boundaries.
Significant Species - Nootka Island Banks is an important feeding area for Marbled Murrelets during the breeding season. Marbled Murrelet is determined to be Threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC; wildlife species that have been assessed as at risk by COSEWIC may qualify for legal protection and recovery under Canada's Species at Risk Act). Two surveys done in 1991 and 1999 both found high densities of murrelets at Nootka Island Banks. In 1991, 352 murrelets were reported feeding here, by far the largest number seen on the area surveys. In 1999, 2032 Marbled Murrelets were estimated to use the Nootka Sound area which accounts for 1/3 of the estimated number found on the north-west coast of Vancouver Island. The Nootka Sound area in general also hosted the highest murrelet densities along the coast. All evidence points to Nootka Sound as one of the most important murrelet breeding habitats in BC and Nootka Island Banks as the critical feeding site for birds breeding in this area.

Other Species of Conservation Interest - In addition to Marbled Murrelets, other species are known to use this area as a foraging site. Brandt's Cormorants sighted here constitute a significant percentage of the national breeding population, though these birds were seen at sea, not breeding. A record in 1990 of 10,000 to 12,000 Short-tailed and Sooty Shearwaters suggests that this may also be an important feeding area for pelagic seabirds. There have been sightings at Nootka Island Banks of many other species of seabirds including Pacific Loon, Rhinoceros Auklet, Common Murre (ssp. inornata), Pigeon Guillemot, Pelagic Cormorant, Sooty Shearwater, Fork-tailed Storm-petrel, Mew gull, Glaucous-winged Gull and White-winged Scoter . Despite the scarcity of data in this area, there are strong indications of the importance of Nootka Island Banks as a feeding area for murrelets and other seabirds.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Greater White-fronted Goose 2019 SP 10,000
Marbled Murrelet 1991 - 1999 SU 327 - 2,032
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
Nuchatlitz Provincial Park is completely within the IBA, and three other Provincial Parks are partly within the IBA: Catala Island Marine Provincial Park, Santa Gertrudis-Boca del Infierno Provincial Park, and Bligh Island Marine Provincial Park. The most pressing threats to this area are from potential oil contamination from tankers passing through the area. In addition extensive fishing can reduce food availability for seabirds or impact populations via by-catch. Deforestation of nearby trees can severely impact nest site availability for the Marbled Murrelet.

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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