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Tofino mudflats: More Than Just Mud!

by Marcia Moncour, Tofino


Sweeps of sandy beaches and moisture-laden temperate rainforests aren't the only amazing ecosystems that Clayoquot Sound has to offer. On the east side of the peninsula lie the Mudflats. "Mudflats" sounds so drab but really that's the last thing this area is. Life abounds here!

So who uses these mudflats and why are they important? Well for one migrating shorebirds do, but they are not alone. Many plants and animal species require mudflats at some point in their life cycle. More sheltered than most intertidal environments and richer in nutrients, the mudflats and eelgrass beds abound with small fish and invertebrates: ghost shrimp, clams and crabs.
It's a fascinating place to explore, full of bizarre life forms hidden beneath rocks and burrowing in the mud. Wintering waterfowl flock to the shallow sheltered waterways in stormy weather. Marine mammals including grey whales and killer whales pass through the deeper channels. Wolves, black bears, cougars and other land mammals forage through forest and shoreline environments. People are also part of the Tofino Mudflats wma and have been for a long time, evidence by numerous archaeological sites: shell middens, fish traps and canoe skids.

The Tofino Mudflats Wildlife Management Area (wma) was established in 1997 to conserve critical wildlife habitat in Clayoquot Sound. The wma comprises three separate units, 21 square in all, mostly tidal mudflats. Together these mudflats comprise one of the ten most critical wetland areas for migratory birds on Canada's West Coast and have been designated an "Important Bird Area" of Canada.

Did you know?

  • The Tofino Mudflats supports ~ 200,000 shorebirds!
  • A typical shorebird will eat almost double their body weight in 1-3 days during a stopover on their Pacific flyway migration.
  • Some shorebirds will make a round trip of 12,000 km!
    To learn more about shorebirds and the Tofino Mudflats Wildlife Management Area please join us at some of the great upcoming Shorebird Festival events sponsored by the Raincoast Education Society.

This information is from the Raincoast Education Society publication, 'More than just mud! Conserving Critical Wildlife Habitat in Clayoquot Sound.' For more information please call 725-2560 or email res@island.net.

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