Hecate Strait


A band of water, roughly over the Moresby Trough, extending from the southern end of Moresby Island across Hecate Strait, and into Camano Sound and Douglas Channel.

ICA Criteria

#1) Endangered, threatened or vulnerable species
#2) Feeding concentration
#4) Migration corridor
#5) Species diversity


This area is consistently used by concentrations of humpback whales, especially along the southeastern Moresby Island coast including Juan Peres Sound, and at the mainland coast inlets such as Douglas Channel.

In recent years fin whales have also been documented throughout in this area, with regular occurrence in Camano Sound. Fin whales are considered rare in BC, recovering from whaling in 1900s.

The Camano Sound region is an important feeding area for Northern Resident killer whales.

Hecate Strait in general is part of the gray whale migration corridor with, at times, thousands of gray whales transiting the area.

This area is close to Rose Harbor, at southern end of Moresby Island, a base of whaling operations from 1910-1943.


Key Species

Canada (SARA) USA (ESA)
Northern Resident killer whales Threatened N/A
Fin whales Threatened Endangered
Gray whales Special Concern None


James Pilkington

James Pilkington

James Pilkington



Published Papers and Books

Clarke, C.L., and Jamieson, G.S. 2006. Identification of ecologically and biologically significant areas in the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area: Phase 1 – Identification of Important Areas. Can Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2678: 89 pp.

Gregr, E.J., and Trites, A.W. 2001.Predictions of critical habitat for five whale species in the waters of coastal British Columbia. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 58: 1265-1285.

Gregr, E.J., Nichol, L., Ford, J.K.B., Ellis, G., and Trites, A. W. 2000. Migration and population structure of northeastern Pacific whales off coastal British Columbia: An analysis of commercial whaling records from 1908-1967. Mar. Mamm. Sci. 16(4): 699-727.

Ford, J.K.B., Durban, J.W., Ellis, G.M., Towers, J.R., Pilkington, J.F. Barrett-Lennard, L.B., and Andrews, R.D. 2012. New insights into the northward migration route of gray whales between Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and southeastern Alaska. Mar. Mamm. Sci. ( In Press).

Williams, R., and Thomas, L. 2007. Distribution and abundance of marine mammals in coastal waters of British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management. 9(1): 15-28.

Williams, R., and O’Hara, P. 2010. Modelling ship strike risk to fin, humpback and killer whales in British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management. 11(1): 1-8.

Williams, R., Ashe, E., and O’Hara, P. D. 2011. Marine mammals and debris in coastal waters of British Columbia, Canada. Marine Pollution Bulletin 62: 1303-1316.

Technical Reports

Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 2008. Recovery strategy for the northern and southern resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa. 81pp.

Ford J.K.B, Ellis, G.M., and Nichol, L.M. 1992. Killer whales of the Queen Charlotte Islands. A preliminary study of the abundance, distribution, and population identity of Orcinus orca in the waters of Haida Gwaii, South Moresby/Haida Gwaii Haanas National Parks Reserve, Canadian Parks Service, Queen Charlotte City.

Ford J.K.B. 2006. An assessment of critical habitats of resident killer whales in waters off the Pacific coast of Canada. Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2006/072.

Ford, J.K.B., Abernethy, R.M., Phillips, A.V., Calambokidis, J., Ellis, G.M., and Nichol, L.M. 2008. Distribution and relative abundance of cetaceans in western Canadian waters from ship surveys, 2002-2008. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2913. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, BC. 51 pp.

Nichol, L.M., Abernethy, R., Flostrand, L., Lee, T.S., and Ford, J.K.B. 2009. Information relevant to the identification of critical habitats of North Pacific humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in British Columbia. Can. Sci. Adv. Sec. Res. Doc. 2009/116.

Nichol, L.M., and Ford, J.K.B. 2011. Information relevant to the assessment of critical habitat for Blue, Fin, Sei and North Pacific Right Whales in British Columbia. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res., Doc 2011. 31 pp.


British Columbia Marine Conservation Analysis

Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area Atlas