Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada

Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada

One hundred kilometres from the coast of British Columbia, on the very edge of Canada's Pacific continental shelf, lies Haida Gwaii, or the Queen Charlotte Islands. Gwaii Haanas archipelago, as it is named, is an incredible area with over 100 islands, beautiful forested creeks, rugged headlands, and protected water passageways between towering mountains. Thousands of seabirds nest on the islands. Parts of Haida Gwaii may have escaped the last ice age, forming a glacial refuge for certain plants and animals.

From the western shore of the islands, the Pacific Ocean drops off to incredible depths. Upwelling nutrients provide the essential ingredients for plankton – the base of the food chain - and form a rich feeding area for many marine mammals. Fin whales, humpbacks, orcas, harbour seals and Stellars sealion all frequent the waters round these islands.

Haida Gwaii is home to the Haida nation - one of the most culturally rich and developed groups of people to inhabit early North America.

Among the southern islands are many ancient villages. These sites contain the remains of the great long houses and the best remaining examples of original totem poles in the world. The United Nations has recognised the cultural value of these sites and designated Ninstints as a 'World Heritage Site, of importance to the history of mankind'.

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