Goose Island Group and Banks

Country/territory: Canada

IBA criteria met: -
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 400,000 ha

Birds Canada / Nature Canada

Site description (baseline)
The Goose Group of islands lie off the mainland coast of British Columbia along the east side of Hecate Strait at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound, and at the north end of Vancouver Island. The site is approximately 30 km southwest of Bella Bella and 150 km north of Port Hardy. Abundant rocks, reefs and small islets, characterize the shallow nearshore waters surrounding the islands. The area is exposed to the open Pacific Ocean. The larger islands are low-lying with extensive rocky shores, sandy bays, tidal mudflats and sandflats. A forest fringe of Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock and Western Red Cedar gives way to a boggy interior. Extensive kelp beds in the area provide habitat for Sea Otters, while Harbour Seal use the site for hauling out and pupping. Goose Banks are 20 to 80 km southwest of the island group, where water depths are generally less than 50 m.

Key biodiversity
The Goose Island Group and Banks IBA site qualifies as a nationally significant site for American Black Oystercatcher. Surveys in 1988 found 17 pairs, which is about 2% of the Canadian population.

Marbled Murrelets, a nationally threatened species, were seen on the water during surveys in 1988 and 1990, with 129 and 100 birds recorded, respectively. Surveys in the 1940s found larger numbers of Pigeon Guillemots around Goose Island than in the 1980s. Their decline is probably due to the presence of mink on the island, a mammal that was not recorded during 1940s surveys.

The complex nearshore waters contain diverse fish populations, which provide a rich environment for marine-associated birds during spring and summer. Generally, the shallow waters (<200 m deep) over the continental shelf support the highest pelagic bird numbers. Shipboard surveys along the coast have identified Goose Banks as one of the areas that supports high concentrations of pelagic birds. Although the precise number of birds using these banks is unknown, during spring there is a significant nearshore migration of Sooty Shearwaters and Red-necked and Red phalaropes.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Goose Island Group and Banks. Downloaded from on 30/05/2023.