The Coast of British Columbia
BC’s marine ecosystems are dynamic and diverse, with
over 6500 known species of invertebrates, 400 species of fish,
161 species of birds, and 29 marine mammals. Although inventories
have not been taken in the Queen Charlotte Basin, it is very
likely that many of these species reside within this rich
region. This enclosed basin that includes Hecate Strait and
Queen Charlotte Sound, is also thought to have the greatest
potential for commercial oil and gas extraction. For salmon
alone, there are six species and more than 5,000 populations
of salmon that spawn in streams adjacent to Queen Charlotte
Basin, and many more that rear in or migrate through the Basin
as juveniles and returning adults. In total almost all BC
salmon pass through the Basin except for a small portion of
some southern coho stocks and Stikine and Taku River stocks.
Humpback whales, orcas, and grey whales all use this region.
Seabirds such as murres and auklets (including 60% of the
world’s population of Cassin’s Auklet) spend much
of their lives on the water in the Basin, and when molting
are particularly susceptible to oil spills, even “minor”
ones. Drifter studies have shown that the oceanography of
the area would circulate spilled oil throughout Hecate Strait
and Queen Charlotte Sound, washing it onto the beaches, rather
than washing it out to sea.