Environmental Stewardship for Paddlers Series – Wildlife Interaction
Wildlife encounters are truly magical and what make our paddling experiences extra special and memorable. However, we risk disturbing and interrupting the natural behaviours of the very wildlife we love, or worse harming them. As responsible paddlers, adopt the marine mammal and seabird viewing guidance that is underpinned by Canadian federal laws.
Maintain your distance:
- 100m from marine mammals (seals, sea lions, whales, dolphins and porpoises) and bird colonies
- 200m from all orcas in BC
- 400m from all orcas in BC south of line drawn between Campbell River and just north of Ucluelet
- Don’t feed, touch, swim, dive or interact with them
- Don’t approach when they are resting
- Don’t encircle or approach head on or from behind, instead view parallel to them
- Don’t separate individuals from a group
Know when the sensitive breeding, nesting and pupping seasons are and employ extra caution around haul-outs and colonies during these times to prevent trampling or separation of pups and chicks from their mothers:
- Harbour seal pupping season – typically May to September
- Seabird/waterbird breeding and nesting season – typically March to September
For more information visit Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s “Watching Marine Wildlife” and Environment and Climate Change Canada’s “Guidelines to Avoid Disturbance to Seabird and Waterbird Colonies in Canada”.
Environmental Stewardship for Paddlers Series – Protected Areas
There are also areas significant to Indigenous cultures that require recognition and respect.
Identify and learn more about protected and culturally significant areas where you paddle to help protect the natural and cultural resources that are found there. Some areas may have use or water/land access restrictions.
For more information visit Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s “Marine Protected Areas and Areas of Interest”, BC Parks’ “Ecological Reserves”, and Environment and Climate Change Canada’s “Protected Areas” web pages. Check nautical charts and maps for delineation of protected and culturally significant areas.
Environmental Stewardship for Paddlers Series – Habitat Protection
Both are important estuarine and nearshore habitats, together offering a variety of ecological services and functions such as the provision of structural habitat, nutrients, prey items, and spawning, nursery, rearing, and shelter/refuge habitat for a myriad of species including salmon, herring and Dungeness crab. Plus they contribute greatly to carbon sequestration, oxygen production, binding and removal of contaminants, reduction of coastal erosion and much more.
Exercise extra care and avoid walking through and placing paddling watercraft and gear on eelgrass, salt marsh and other habitat areas.