Gwaii Haanas National Park

More than a million interesting and rare birds nest along the shoreline and spectacular deep fiords of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, 138 rugged “islands of wonder and beauty” (their Haida name) off Canada’s northwest coast. They are attracted by undisturbed breeding habitat and abundance of food both in off- and inshore waters, including huge numbers of spawning salmon.

Marine mammals are attracted as well—17 whale species, some resident, some transient: humpback, sei, finback, minke, gray, and handsome small orcas—as well as up to 10,000 harbor seals and a large breeding colony of Steller’s sea lions. Multihued sea stars illuminate low-tide zones.

Small plump marbled murrelets, a seriously threatened species, lay single eggs in depressions on mossy limbs (unfortunately on trees favored by the logging industry).

Eagles nest along the coast along with peregrine falcons, common murres, and cormorants.

Rhinoceros auklets, bearing a rhino-like bill tuft, raise young in burrows. So do ancient murrelets, tufted puffins, Cassin’s auklets, and Leach’s and fork-tailed storm petrels.

Black bears and pine martens—both larger than mainland cousins, due in part to rich seafood diets—live in one of the finest old-growth forests on the Pacific coast.

Access to Gwaii Haanas is by air or sea. There are no campsites, trails, and few visitor services, though licensed tour guides and lodging are nearby.