About Tofino Flora & Fauna

Wander a rainforest dense with green ferns and a canopy of trees. Gaze at the sky to spot birds soaring overhead or a glinting galaxy on a dark night. Keep your eyes open and spot life everywhere.

When people think of wildlife around Tofino, charismatic megafauna like bears, whales, wolves, and eagles may come to mind. While those animals are impressive in their own right, there are so many incredible creatures that call the West Coast and neighbouring waters home. Embrace a curiosity about how it all fits together. It’s a web of life thriving in harmony.

We wish to acknowledge the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation and Nuu-chah-nulth people who have been stewards of this land since time immemorial. 

Forest floor

When we think of lush forests it’s easy to forget about the spongy forest floor that absorbs our steps and softens the sound of rain. The fungi and species covering the ground play an integral role in the ecosystem, recycling nutrients into the system. 

Look closely to find:

  • Banana slugs
  • Sword ferns
  • Moss 
  • Nurse logs
  • Centipedes 
  • Mushrooms (amanitas, chanterelles, and boletes)
  • Lady ferns

Trees and shrubs

The legendary rainforests on the West Coast are resilient, diverse and a sight to behold.  They support dozens of insects, birds, amphibians, and mammals and are critical in regulating the hydrological cycle, including helping to reduce the impacts of drought. 

Be sure to look up and down for:

  • Douglas fir
  • Western Red cedar
  • Alaska Yellow cedar
  • Salal
  • Lichen
  • Licorice fern
  • Western hemlock 
  • Red alder (mainly in disturbed areas)
  • Huckleberry 
  • Salmonberry
ʔiisaak pledge

Guests are welcomed with open arms in Tofino, but they are expected to respect the land, animals, people, and community while travelling within the Hahuulthi (territory) of the ƛaɁuukwiatḥ (Tla-o-qui-aht) Ḥaw̓iiḥ (Hereditary Chiefs). Take the ʔiisaak Pledge to ensure that you travel here thoughtfully.

Wildlife

Many animals on the coast traverse between the intertidal zone, forests, estuaries, and river systems. There is a fluidity to where these animals graze - from scavenging the high tide line to foraging the riparian zones during the salmon spawn. Like the black bear, many hold a critical role in the nutrient cycle between land and sea - the salmon carcasses they feed on and leave in the woods nourish the forest floor. 

Some are more elusive than others, but you may see:

  • Coastal wolves
  • Black bears
  • Cougars
  • Deer
  • River otters
  • Bald eagles
  • Raccoons
  • Western toads 

Sky

Thousands of migratory birds make Tofino a stop on their journey north and south. The availability of food in the mudflats and the nearshore makes this an attractive rest stop. It also means that lots of nutrients get cycled back into the ecosystem from increased guano (bird poop!). Discover feathered friends on the BC Bird Trail and look for the Tofino Outpost. 

Look up at wings in the sky:

  • Tufted puffin
  • Pelagic cormorant
  • Bald eagle
  • Steller’s jay
  • Killdeer
  • Oystercatcher
  • Gulls
  • Great blue heron
  • Northern flicker
  • Northwestern crow
  • Raven (similar looking to crows)
  • Belted kingfisher

Intertidal

Interacting with your environment is one of the best ways to learn and appreciate humans' interplay with the web of life. Tide pools are a microcosm of brightly-coloured animals—from the dusty rose of articulated coralline algae to the violet of ochre sea stars, and the chartreuse of green surf anemones. Watching the workings of these micro-ecosystems up close ignites even more curiosity for what lives in the sea. 

Peer into local tide pools to find:

  • Ochre sea stars
  • Tidepool sculpins
  • Green surf anemones
  • Pink-tipped anemones
  • Sea lettuce
  • Rockweed
  • Rainbow kelp
  • Hermit crabs
  • Turban snails
  • Shore crabs

Subtidal


Ever wondered what lives right below the surface of the ocean in the Pacific Northwest? Most people think of tropical reefs when they think of brightly coloured underwater scenes, but the kelp forests off of Tofino are rich in beautiful reds, purples, and pinks. From rockfish dancing through a submarine forest to ochre-coloured kelp crabs sitting incognito and swaying on giant kelp fronds. 

Wade carefully in search of:

  • Giant Pacific octopus 
  • Plumose anemones
  • Bat stars
  • Vermillion stars
  • Leather stars
  • Rose anemones
  • Kelp crabs
  • Rockfish 
  • Moon snails
  • Sea urchins (red and purple)

Ocean

Some people may fear what lurks below, but the depths present many treasures. Here, intriguing flat fish such as halibut skim the surface of the sediment for tasty morsels, crabs scavenge for scraps, and lingcod of beautiful blue hues await their prey. 

Some of the creatures you can see in the ocean include:

  • Whales: Grey, Humpback, and Orcas (Killer whales)
  • Sea otters
  • Halibut
  • Pacific sole
  • C-O sole
  • Lingcod
  • Dungeness crab
  • Red rock crab
  • Skates 
  • Jellyfish
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