THE NATURAL FEATURES
OF SHERINGHAM POINT
Sheringham Point is situated along the coast of the Strait of Juan de Fuca — a 154 km long channel, ranging between 18 and 27 km wide, that connects the Salish Sea (Georgia Strait and adjoining areas) to the Pacific Ocean. The boundary between Canada and the United States runs, more or less, down the centre of the Strait.
The rocky coastline surrounding Sheringham Point is typical of the southern and western coasts of Vancouver Island. Pocked with numerous small coves, craggy cliffs, cobble beaches and a near-impenetrable forest cover, this foreshore is renowned both for its beauty and its ruggedness.
The currents in this area are strong, as would be typical in such a constricted area. Winds also can be strong, regularly reaching gale-force, and waves can often reach several metres, strong enough to crash over the rocks and the lighthouse structures.
It can also be phenomenally beautiful — in all weather conditions.
Vegetation, Trees and Shrubs
Sheringham Point is in the transition zone between the wetter Cedar-Hemlock forests of the west coast of Vancouver Island, and the dryer Coastal Douglas-fir forests of the Island’s south-east coast. As such, features and species typical of both can be found in the area. Both of these forest ecosystems are being increasingly threatened as the climate changes and as growth pressures continue.
The dominant tree species in this area are Douglas-fir, Western hemlock, Western red cedar, Sitka spruce, Shore pine, Red alder, Broadleaf maple and Bitter cherry.
Many kinds of shrubs have been identified on the property, including over a dozen bearing berries that are attractive to wildlife. There are also many species of wildflowers that can be found blooming in season, many unique to this part of the world.
While the site continues to re-naturalize, it still also has many remnants of the domestic plantings done by the lightkeepers and their families during the past hundred years. In early spring the site lights up with the blooming of thousands of daffodils.
A partial (non-comprehensive) plant survey was recently completed at the site by noted ethnobotanist Nancy Turner. For her species list, please click here.
Species at Risk
A rare species of Lichen has been discovered at the Sheringam Point site— “Seaside Bone Lichen”, or Hypogymnia heterophylla. This species is listed as “threatened” under the federal Species At Risk Act. Seaside Bone grows on trees within about 100 m of the shoreline. There are currently seven known populations of this lichen in Canada, all on the South Coast of Vancouver Island.
PLEASE DO NOT INTERFERE IN ANY WAY WITH THIS LICHEN AT THE SHERINGHAM POINT SITE.
Wildlife Visitors...On Land
Black Bears and Cougars have been found on site from time to time. Watch for the bears, especially, in the Fall when the fruit is ripe. Also visiting the site are Columbian (Coastal) Black-tailed Deer, as well as numerous smaller species such as Mink, Raccoons, Red Squirrels and several species of mice and voles. You might also see Garter snakes or one of several species of Salamander that can be found in the area.
PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF ALL WILDLIFE AND KEEP YOUR DISTANCE — FOR YOUR SAKE AND THEIRS.
...In The Air
Over 300 species of birds have been identified in this area, and many of them can be found on the Sheringham Point site or on the adjacent waters.
Keep an eye open for Bald Eagles, which can often be seen flying overhead or resting on one of the tree snags. There are also often marine birds, such as Scoters, Cormorants, Murres and Buffleheads on the water. Several species of gulls can be found and, occasionally, offshore (pelagic) species can be spotted, especially after storms.
...And In The water
Coastal areas around southern Vancouver Island are among the most diverse anywhere. Scan the waters and you may see Killer Whales (Orcas), which are resident in this area. They can be seen year round, but most often during May – October. You may also be fortunate to see Grey Whales or Humpback Whales swimming by (during their migrations – starting in March for Grey Whales, a bit later for Humpbacks, and then through the summer until October).
Both Steller Sea Lions and California Sea Lions also frequent the area. That small grey head popping out of the water is likely a Harbour Seal, and you may also spot a family of River Otters playing on the beach, or in the surf.
Bull kelp can be seen floating just off the point, and there are also eel grass beds that provide home for many smaller fish and shellfish.