IBA Xaana Kaahlii GawGaay Skidegate Inlet
Queen Charlotte City, British Columbia
Site Summary
BC145 Latitude
53.249° N
131.943° W
0 m
340.77 km²
coniferous forest (temperate), scrub/shrub, native grassland, mud or sand flats (saline), open sea, cliffs/rocky shores (inland)
Land Use:
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Disturbance, Industrial pollution, Introduced species, Oil slicks
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Nationally Significant: Congregatory Species
Conservation status:
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Site Description
Skidegate Inlet is a large embayment between the two main islands (Graham and Moresby Islands) of the Haida Gwaii archipelago in British Columbia. The IBA site extends west from Leonide Point on Graham Island, and eastward on the north coast to a point halfway between the village of Skidegate and Dead Tree Point. On the southern side of the inlet, the site extends east and southward along the coast near Moresby Island to a point between Cape Chroustcheff and Copper Bay. It includes all the marine waters in this region, in an arc to about 5 km offshore. The smaller islands are rocky, whereas the larger islands contain small conifer forests. The western portion of the site is characterized by comparatively sheltered channels and bays around two large islands at the centre of the inlet. Here, a long sand spit extends out from Spit Point across the mouth of Skidegate Inlet. A broad shallow tidal shelf extends eastwards from here, with adjacent beaches and intertidal flats consisting of a mixture of mud sand and stones. Gray Whales are often seen feeding in offshore waters.
Globally important numbers of Black Brant (10-15,000) occur during spring migration, stopping to feed on the eel grass beds. Up to 2,000 birds were seen on a single day during surveys in 1991. Diving ducks, loons and grebes concentrate in large numbers around schools of spawning Pacific Herring. The Inlet is an important feeding area for Red-necked and Western Grebes, Surf, White-winged and Black Scoters, Greater Scaup, and Harlequin Ducks. A globally important population of Pigeon Guillemots and a nationally important population of Black Oystercatchers occur during the breeding season. In 1990, researchers estimated that there were approximately 1,000 nesting pairs of guillemots in the area, and 44 pairs of Black Oystercathers were found. The largest numbers of guillemots were on Lillihorn, Jewell, and Torrens islands. Glaucous-winged Gulls also nest throughout the 26 islets and islands. The eastern end of the inlet around Sandspit is important for migrating shorebirds during spring and fall. A high diversity of species can be found at Big Spit, Kilkun Bay and Little Spit Point. Thirty-seven species were recorded during surveys in 1991 and 1992, the four most numerous being Western Sandpiper, Dunlin, Black Turnstone, and Sanderling. Sandspit is a significant stopover for Surfbirds, with 2,400 recorded in spring. Regular fall migrants include Pacific and American Golden Plovers, Upland Sandpiper and Black-bellied Plover. In spring, regular migrants include Red Knot, dowitchers and Marbled Godwit. The relative importance of the IBA to some of the species listed above is under review.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Black Oystercatcher 2010 - 2017 FA 90 - 200
Black Oystercatcher 1990 SU 88
Black Oystercatcher 1990 - 2019 WI 76 - 391
Black Turnstone 1994 - 2017 WI 784 - 1,093
Brant 1995 SP 3,000
Glaucous-winged Gull 2002 - 2008 WI 4,501 - 6,342
Iceland Gull (Thayer's) 2011 - 2015 FA 80 - 90
Iceland Gull (Thayer's) 2013 - 2016 WI 100 - 129
Pelagic Cormorant 2000 - 2017 WI 527 - 1,069
Pigeon Guillemot 1990 SU 2,630
Red-necked Grebe 2010 - 2011 FA 350 - 385
Red-necked Grebe 2016 SP 500
Western Grebe 2013 - 2015 FA 1,000 - 1,500
Western Grebe 1992 - 2019 WI 906 - 2,724
White-winged Scoter 1990 WI 4,292
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
Predation by raccoons, an introduced species, is a threat to nesting colonial waterbirds in the region. Human disturbance, development, and oils spills also have the potential to affect bird species and their habitat.

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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