Flora and Fauna
- Best of Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Island: High Tea to Low Tide
- Vancouver’s Totem Poles
- Vancouver’s Best Hiking
- Family Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
- Focus on Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Weekend Getaway
- Victoria Weekend Getaway
- A Tour Through Time
- Inside Passage Cruises
- Outdoor Adventures
- Winter Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
When the first Europeans sailed into Georgia Strait in the late 1700s, most of what is now Vancouver and Victoria was covered in a temperate rainforest dominated by hemlock, western red cedar, and Sitka spruce, with forests of Douglas fir thriving in drier areas. The only remaining tract of these ancient forests can be found in Vancouver’s Stanley Park and Victoria’s Goldstream Provincial Park.
These two parks are also good places to view local animal populations. Coyotes, raccoons, skunks, and a variety of squirrels call the parks home. Beavers live in many waterways within Vancouver, but the most accessible spot to view these industrious critters is Burnaby Lake, west of downtown Vancouver. On Vancouver’s North Shore, forested provincial parks such as Cypress, Golden Ears, Indian Arm, and Mount Seymour hold populations of larger mammals, including black and grizzly bears, deer, and mountain goats.
Marinelife in the waters between Vancouver and Victoria is abundant, a major drawing card for scuba divers and anglers alike. Sea lions, seals, and whales are all present, and they occasionally venture into busy urban waterways. All five species of North Pacific salmon spawn in local river systems—chinook, chum, coho, pink, and sockeye—and, along with halibut, lingcod, and perch, make for excellent fishing. On a smaller scale, tidal rock pools hold a great variety of marinelife. Wander down to the shoreline of Stanley Park or anywhere along Victoria’s waterfront at low tide and you’ll see crabs, sea anemones, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins.
More than 350 bird species have been reported within Metro Vancouver alone. The Fraser River delta is an important migratory stop for hundreds of thousands of birds. It’s on the Pacific Flyway, along which birds winter in South America and migrate north each spring to Siberia, then make the return trip south each fall. The highest concentration of migrating birds can be viewed at the George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary, where up to 50,000 snow geese stop over in November.
Nearby, 4,000-hectare (9,900-acre) Burns Bog, one of the world’s largest peat bogs, is home to 140 species of birds. The delta’s wetlands are also an important wintering ground for many species, including trumpeter swans, the world’s largest waterfowl. Birdlife is also prolific in Victoria, including Beacon Hill Park, which holds a large population of Canada geese and ducks.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition