IBA Cleland Island & Southeast Clayoquot Sound
Tofino, British Columbia
Site Summary
BC080 Latitude
Longitude
49.186° N
126.074° W
Elevation
Size
0 - 10 m
396.71 km²
Habitats:
open sea, coastal cliffs/rocky shores (marine)
Land Use:
Not Utilized (Natural Area)
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Disturbance, Oil slicks
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Continentally Significant: Congregatory Species, Nationally Significant: Threatened Species, Congregatory Species, Shorebird Concentrations
Conservation status: Ecological Reserve (provincial)
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Site Description
Clayoquot Sound is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, northwest of Barkley Sound. The town of Tofino lies at the southern end of the sound. Cleland Island, at the centre of the area, lies off the west coast of Vargas Island in the mouth of the sound. The site encompasses the marine area in a 10 km radius around Cleland Island. It includes inshore water exposed to open ocean conditions that contain numerous islets and rocky reefs, as well as channels partly bounded and protected by land. Cleland Island is a treeless, low-lying basalt island rising to ten meters in elevation. The higher central area is vegetated with shrubs such as salmonberry and wild rose surrounded by lush grasses and forbs. Eelgrass beds occur at Clayoquot Spit on Stubbs Island. Clouded Salamanders are found at this site and Steller's Sea Lions haul out on the reefs.
Birds
Cleland Island and other smaller islands in southeastern Clayoquot Sound provide important habitat for four species of breeding birds. Fifty-four pairs of American Black Oystercatchers were recorded in 1986; which is 1% of the global population, and in some years, as many as 57 pairs have been detected on Cleland Island. In 1988, surveys found 1,687 pairs of Glaucous-winged Gulls, which is about 1% of the North American population. Also in 1988, 207 nesting Pigeon Guillemots (2% of the Canadian population) and 5,700 nesting Leach's Storm-Petrels (1% of the Canadian component of the eastern Pacific population) were recorded. Cleland Island is a diverse seabird colony as in addition to the species already mentioned, Cassin's Auklet, Rhinoceros Auklet, Tufted Puffin, and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel also breed here.

During the summer, the southeast portion of Clayoquot Sound (particularly southeast of Vargas Island and southeast of Flores Island) hosts substantial numbers of Marbled Murrelet (a nationally threatened species). In 1982, 4,500 birds were recorded, whereas in 1993, 2,622 birds were recorded. This most recent survey still represents 5% of the Canadian population. The difference in numbers may be a result of climatic variation and not actual longer-term changes in population. Conversely the loss of old-growth forests to logging, along with other factors, may be causing a genuine decline.

Large numbers of Black Brant use the eelgrass beds; 4,000 birds were recorded in April 1970, but in 1989 only 480 birds were seen. Thousands of White-winged and Surf Scoters can be seen while moulting or migrating in early spring. It is likely that over 10,000 waterfowl of various species gather here in spring, but this has not been confirmed.




IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Number Year Month Day Season A4i/ii B4i/ii/iii A1 B1 C1 Reference
Black Oystercatcher 108 1986 SU 100 100 Rodway & Lemon 1990
Black Oystercatcher 85 1992 11 19 FA 100 100 eBird Canada
Black Oystercatcher 89 2014 9 14 FA 100 100 eBird Canada
Black-footed Albatross 30 2016 9 16 FA 1,200 1,100 1 1 25 eBird Canada
Brant 4,000 1970 4 15 SP 5,637 3,517
Heermann's Gull 42 1996 7 21 SU 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 200 1996 9 10 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 50 1999 10 7 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 70 2001 8 31 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 70 2001 9 1 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 25 2001 9 17 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 40 2002 8 7 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 500 2002 8 14 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 40 2002 8 15 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 40 2003 7 8 SU 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 30 2003 7 18 SU 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 50 2003 7 28 SU 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 45 2003 7 30 SU 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 50 2003 8 4 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 80 2004 8 26 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 120 2004 9 12 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 140 2008 9 28 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 45 2010 8 4 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 60 2010 8 14 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 40 2010 8 15 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 100 2010 9 2 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 60 2010 9 12 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 60 2012 8 20 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 50 2013 9 14 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 135 2014 7 21 SU 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 35 2014 7 22 SU 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 25 2014 7 27 SU 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 450 2014 8 3 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 30 2014 8 5 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 32 2014 9 14 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 30 2014 9 20 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 25 2015 7 6 SU 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 60 2016 7 27 SU 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 35 2016 7 30 SU 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Heermann's Gull 30 2016 9 16 FA 5,300 5,300 eBird Canada
Iceland Gull (Thayer's) 98 2002 5 10 SP 100 100 eBird Canada
Marbled Murrelet 4,500 1982 SU 6,200 5,520 1 1 500 Kelson et al. 1995
Marbled Murrelet 2,622 1993 SU 6,200 5,520 1 1 500 Kelson et al. 1995
Pink-footed Shearwater 100 2016 9 16 FA 400 400 30 30 210 eBird Canada
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
Threats to the area are from potential oil spills, and disturbance from boaters and other visitors. The seabird colony on Cleland Island is fragile and vulnerable to disturbance. Thus it has been protected as an Ecological Reserve that closes it to the public. A portion of the proposed IBA is in relatively accessible waters, since it is close to Tofino and to Pacific Rim National Park (both popular destinations for vacationers), and so boat traffic could be a source of disturbance to flocks of birds on the water.

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