Wildlife and Plants

The plant and animal life in Victoria Harbour has been much reduced over the decades, due to the impacts of past and present human activities (see Concerns).

Examples of plants and wildlife found in Victoria Harbour:
  • Red-breasted mergansers and harlequin ducks are seen along the rocky shoreline between Macaulay and McLoughlin points.
  • Marine invertebrates: Mussels, barnacles and sea anemones are common on the rocky shores and attached to floating wharves.
  • Seaweeds: sea lettuce (Ulva spp), filamentous red algae and kelp (primarily Laminaria spp). Most of the kelp occurs near rock outcrops in the outer areas of the harbour, for example around rocky islets such as Pelly Island, Sleeper Rock, Colville Is. and Berens Is., and off McLoughlin Point.
  • In rocky subtidal areas, kelp, red algae, bryozoans, sponges, ascidians, tube worms, anemones, shrimp and crabs (including Dungeness, helmet, red rock and kelp crabs) have been observed.
  • Some small eelgrass beds remain in the harbour, although probably much reduced in area from historic times. The largest eelgrass bed, 1.6 hectares, is located at Shoal Point (see map). Eelgrass provides valuable habitat for many species including crabs, shrimp, and other invertebrates, as well as fish such as shiner perch, stickleback, tubesnout, rock sole, kelp greenling and buffalo sculpin. Juvenile salmon, cutthroat trout and herring shelter in eelgrass beds as well.
  • Harbour seals and river otters are commonly sighted in the harbour.
Harbour seal 220x136 hh

Harbour seal in Victoria Harbour


Victoria Harbour is part of a federally designated Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Although the boat and airplane traffic in the inner harbour discourages most birds from feeding there, many different species can be seen in the outer areas and more sheltered coves in the harbour.
  • Some of the most diverse populations of diving ducks, mergansers and coots in the local area occur in Victoria Harbour. These birds are present from late fall through to early spring, and include: red-breasted merganser; common goldeneye; bufflehead; hooded merganser; greater scaup; American coot; longtail duck; and surf scoter.
  • Large numbers of gulls can be seen year-round. The glaucous-winged gull is a resident species, while the mew gull is most common during the winter months.
  • Among the swans, geese and dabbling ducks, the American widgeon is among the most commonly observed species in Victoria Harbour, along with mallards and Canada geese.
  • Loons and grebes are most numerous during the winter months in this area. Species observed include the red-necked grebe, horned grebe and Pacific loon.
  • Shorebirds are not seen in large numbers in Victoria Harbour, perhaps due partly to the difficulties in accessing the remaining fragments of natural shoreline. Nevertheless, species such as western sandpiper, black-bellied plover and black oystercatcher have been sighted.
For more information about the relative abundance of various types of birds throughout the seasons in Victoria Harbour, as observed in 1997-1999, click here.

Victoria Harbour Environment

Victoria Harbour Watersheds


Emergency Contacts

Emergency Management of BC 1.800.663.3456
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