Georgina Point, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Photo credit: Parks Canada.
View of Active Pass from Georgina Point. Photo credit: Parks Canada.
Viewing scope at Georgina Point, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Photo credit: Parks Canada.
Killer Whales, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Photo credit: Parks Canada.
Established in 2003, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve protects a portion of the Strait of Georgia Lowlands natural region. It is part of the homeland of the Coast Salish First Nations.
Georgina Point, in the park reserve, lies on the northern end of Mayne Island. Looking out from the point, you can see strong tides mixing fresh water from the Fraser River with ocean water from the Salish Sea. This blend of fresh and salty water surges through a narrow channel between Mayne and Galiano Islands called Active Pass, creating a biological hotspot. A great place for watching wildlife!
Year-round, these fast moving, nutrient-rich waters sustain many marine species. You may spot whales and sea lions using Active Pass as a thoroughfare, the same way humans do. Seals haul-out year-round on the rocky shores and reefs. Resident and migratory birds feed on fish and fill the air with their calls.
Active Pass holds an international designation as an Important Bird Area for its role in supporting three marine species. Pacific Loons and Brandt’s Cormorants overwinter here. Bonaparte’s Gulls rest and refuel here during their spring and fall migrations.
The first Georgina Point Lighthouse was erected in 1885. The current lighthouse was built 1940 and added to in 1969. It still stands as a critical point of marine navigation. The waters are busy with vessel traffic, including fishers, pleasure craft and large ferries that run between the mainland and Vancouver Island.
The Southern Resident Killer Whales, which is a species at risk in Canada, prefers to eat Chinook Salmon. The salmon migrate through Active Pass and around these waters. Parks Canada is collaborating with Indigenous partners and other federal departments, to support the recovery of Southern Resident Killer Whales, through science, enforcement and education programs.
Visitor safety is a top priority for Parks Canada. Visitors to Gulf Islands National Park Reserve are advised to always use caution when accessing any beach or rocky outcrops overlooking the water. Plan your activities according to tides and observe beach conditions closely. Please obey guidelines and stay on designated trails. Learn more about coastal safety by visiting CoastSmart.ca
Parks Canada has installed red chairs across the system of national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas for your enjoyment – take a photo and share with us! Hopefully you spot some amazing marine wildlife from the red chairs overlooking Active Pass.