It was high tide. Had we timed it better we would have seen more of the muddy, marshy, intertidal ecosystem that makes up the Tofino mudflats. The water took over most of the gravel beach and had pushed a thin layer of ocean over the flats. An overcast sky hung low, almost touching the surrounding mountains and the dense rainforest around them. The sounds of birds, the smell of ocean and its vegetation, and the ripples in the water caused by crawlers and critters below – this place was ALIVE!
The Tofino Mudflats Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is 21 square kilometres. Its environment is rich in nutrients and home to a variety of wildlife. Made up of tidal flats, rocky and gravel beaches, streams, channels and surrounded by Tofino’s famous mountains and thick west coast rainforest these flats are an incredible place to explore.
What will you see? At low tides you’ll see the usual intertidal pool life: star fish, crabs, an anemone or two. You might also spot pipefish, ghost shrimp and ribbon worms in the eelgrass. Shorebirds are a plenty here including the beautifully graceful blue heron. In fact, thousands of migratory and local bird species can be found feeding and resting here.
In the areas deeper channels Gray whales, and occasionally Orca whales, pass through. Other marine mammals in the area could include harbour seals, porpoises, and river otters. Predator animals like bears, cougars and wolfs live in the surrounding forests and although sightings are rare, could still be seen foraging along the shoreline.
Activities in this area include kayaking and canoeing, bird and wildlife watching, sport fishing, and clam and crab harvesting.
This area also lies within the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. Over 50 archaelogical sites have been found including shell middens, fish traps, and canoe skids! The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations continue to gather resources from the mudflats like clams, crabs, ducks, and deer.
Where can you access viewing areas of the mudflats?
When you’re visiting the Tofino Mudflats (WMA) it is important that you:
The Raincoast Education Society held a photo contest of the mudflats last year. Check out their Flicker Photo Gallery!
The Gray Team