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Botanical Beach in the Shadows

Botanical Beach

The Beecher Bay to Port Renfrew ocean area grows about 275 of the 500 different Sea weeds found on the west coast of Vancouver Island, B.C..

Rich tide pools, a shoreline full of life and fantastic geological features impress visitors to Botanical Beach, a "natural Jewel" in the newly created Juan de Fuca Provincial Park .

image of Botanical Beach History
The abundance of life was what drew Dr. Josephine Tildon to choose Botanical Beach as the location for the University of Minnesota's marine station in 1900. For seven years students and researchers came from all over the world to study here. To get to the station, a steamship would come from Victoria to Port Renfrew. From there it was on foot on a very muddy and narrow trail to the station. A better road in to the station was promised,however it did not materialize and the difficult access was considered a reason for the station's closure in 1907. There are few remains of the station left today. Universities still use Botanical Beach for field trips,and research,under park use permits. The area became a Class A provincial park in 1989.

image of shells in a small pool left behind when the tide went out

Natural History
Botanical Beach has extensive upland habitat, but is best known for its abundance of intertidal life. A visitor can find hundreds of species of plants and animals. The organisms that live here must be able to handle a wide range of conditions. When the tide is out there are large changes in temperature, predators, food sources and salinity.

images of sea life in the tidal pools at Botenay Bay

Each creature has adapted to contend with these variable conditions. Organisms that can not cope with drying will survive in the tide pools or in shaded crevices. There you will find congregations of seastars, chitons and anemones, the seastars often piled together to conserve moisture loss. Barnacles, snails, mussels are able to survive by closing up tightly with a small amount of water inside their shells.

sea urchins in a tidal pool at Botanical Beach, Vancouver Island

Some Plants and Animals
There are some plants and animals that are specialists to the high impact waves found at Botanical Beach. The Gooseneck Barnacle(an animal),and the Sea Palm (a brown algae) are two of these. These organisms survive in the surf zone by being attached to the rock with flexible stocks that bend with the force of the waves. They are just two of the thousands of species of marine invertebrates and algae that can be found here at low tide. Purple Sea Urchins have established a particular niche in the soft sandstone. Their sharp,hard spines help to wear away indentations in which they live.

image of a strange looking rock, looks like indents cut deep into the rock about the size of a basketball

While Exploring
While exploring please remember the rocks can be very slippery and dangerous. Please respect ALL natural objects found within the park. Do Not remove, collect or disturb any tidepool life, shells, plants, flowers, kelp etc. Photographs make great souvenirs!

deep cuts in the tidal beach sometimes to wide to cross

Watch the Ocean
Killer Whales and Grey Whales have often been observed swimming past the beach or feeding just off of the points. The best time for seeing Grey Whales is during their migration from the Mexican coast to Alaska during March and April. Both California and Northern Sealions can be found here from late August through May. Harbour Seals are often seen offshore,they can be recognized by their basketball-shaped heads bobbing at the surface.

The main tidepools and sculptured formations are formed out of soft sandstone

The main tidepools and sculptured formations are formed out of soft sandstone. Some of the parks tidepools are formed by wave-tossed boulders grinding out pockets in the sandstone. Purple Sea Urchins further modify these tidepools by grinding out small pockets. Ridges of shale and quartz jut up through black basalt,and the southern cliffs form some of the most photogenic landscapes found on southern Vancouver Island.

Botanical Beach is about a 1 1/2 hour walk from Port Renfrew

How Far is it?
Botanical Beach is about a 1 1/2 hour walk from Port Renfrew. Continue to the end of the road at the Botanical parking area, then it's a 15 -20 minute walk to the beach. Please use parking areas, do not park along the road.

Botanical Beach is a wilderness area

Visitor Safety
Botanical Beach is a wilderness area: Black Bear and Cougar may be present at any time. Black Bear have not become used to feeding on garbage, please pack your garbage out of the park. Cougars normally avoid people and are rarely seen. Take precautions by leaving your pets at home and ensuring your small children do not venture alone into brush areas.

image of moss growing around the tidal pools looks very strange

Very Dangerous!
Be cautious of the force of the waves. This can be very dangerous. Periodically and unpredictably a very large wave or a series of large waves will hit the beach. These waves can pull unsuspecting park visitors into the water. Please respect their power. Do Not Let Children Play Near The Surf.

Image of the stairs to the beach, when the tide cuts off your beach trail be aware of escape trails.

The Tide
Know what the tide is doing,and be aware of escape trails if your route back is blocked by surf.

 image of the sandstone rock formations and the steep slope to the sea

Visitors should be equipped with appropriate outerwear and footwear for wet weather conditions and the very rocky and slippery shoreline.

image of a flock of birds leaving their seaweed bed on the surface of the ocean

Remember ...
this is a wilderness area and first aid is not readily available.

image of the tidal flats

Disposal Facilities and Fresh Water
This is a pack-in,pack-out park,there are no disposal facilities.There is no potable water available.

image of the many exits off the beach to the main trailhead

Selected Park Rules
*No collecting or harming of any marine species (whether it is alive or not). *Camping and fires are NOT allowed in the park. *Bicycles are permitted on the roads but not the trails. * If you do bring a pet, keep it on a leash. *Please refer to the information shelter for complete park regulations.

For more information on BC Parks Click Here

The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail does NOT connect to the West Coast Trail, which is part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve . Information on the West Coast Trail is available at Port Renfrew Online Parks Links and West Coast Trail Information web site.

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