Connecting with the ocean
We are all connected to the ocean. From mountaintops to the seafloor, water always flows towards the ocean. Explore how Parks Canada protects aquatic life and celebrates marine cultural heritage from rivers and lakes to estuaries and seas.
On this page
- Your ocean connection
- Exploring iconic coastal landscapes
- Conserving marine ecosystems
- Collaborating with Indigenous communities
- Protecting marine cultural heritage
- Take action to protect the ocean
Your ocean connection
From coast to coast to coast, all rivers join the sea. Find out which ocean basin you are connected to by following the waterways in your area on this map. Note how some of the locations administered by Parks Canada are located along the way.
Water is essential for life. Canada is a water nation with three major coastlines and five main ocean watersheds that connect us to the ocean. The purpose of this map is to show how a droplet of water, no matter where it falls on land, can and will reach the ocean.
Note that this map is an artistic representation of the major watersheds of Canada. It is not intended to be used as a geographic tool.
Exploring iconic coastal landscapes
Parks Canada is responsible for protecting nationally significant examples of marine natural and cultural heritage and sharing the stories of these treasured places.
Parks Canada provides Canadians with opportunities to explore and enjoy iconic coastal destinations across the country. Connect with the ocean by visiting one of these special places:
- Visit a National Marine Conservation Area
Each national marine conservation area is a gateway to nature and adventure. Watch seabirds, kayak around islands, explore tidal pools, and more.
- Explore magical beaches
Golden beaches, turquoise waves and sun-warmed waters. Where will your adventures take you this year? Get inspired with these beautiful beach picks.
- Navigate through historic canals and waterways
Here's your chance to create unforgettable memories, surrounded by the sights and sounds of these historical routes.
- Go on a paddling adventure
From canoeing to paddle boarding, ways to explore coastlines at Parks Canada administered places are endless. Which one will you choose?
Canada has the longest coastline in the world, over 240 000 km! Connect with some of the natural and cultural treasures along this coastline by trying out these activities:
- Dive along shipwrecks, paddle with salmon, and swim in a kelp forest through this selection of some of our best marine videos.
- Colour Parka’s Under the sea colouring sheet .
Conserving marine ecosystems
Canada is home to rich marine ecosystems. Parks Canada contributes to protecting this biodiversity and strives to conserve 25% of marine and coastal areas by 2025, working toward 30% by 2030. This work is done in collaboration with partners, including Indigenous Peoples, provinces, and territories.
Find out how Parks Canada and partners protect underwater life from rainforests to kelp forests:
- Creating national marine conservation areas: building blocks for better health
Parks Canada is leading and supporting the creation of 10 new national marine conservation areas (NMCAs) by 2025.
- Salmon recovery in Fundy National Park
Wild salmon have disappeared from the Bay of Fundy region. Parks Canada is working with its partners to bring salmon back to Fundy Rivers.
- Restoring a quiet environment for whales
Canada’s protected waters are home to many at-risk whales. Keeping waters as quiet as possible is key for their survival.
- Impede the Reed Project
Have you ever looked along a roadside or shoreline and noticed a tall, leafy grass growing over your head? You were looking at a reed.
- eDNA: From crime to conservation
For over 30 years, scientists have been using DNA profiling in crime investigations. Wildlife scientists are now using this technique in nature.
- Blue Carbon on the West Coast
Parks Canada scientists are studying the ability of eelgrass and salt marshes to absorb carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas.
- Creatures of the deep (and shallows)
Strange and wonderful wildlife inhabit the national marine conservation areas of Canada. This story map allows you to dive along these creatures.
- The Fifth International Marine Protected Area Congress (IMPAC5)
IMPAC5 is where we will come together and take a stand to protect the ocean.
Collaborating with Indigenous communities
Indigenous peoples have a role to play in managing, protecting, and conserving marine areas. Parks Canada is working closely with Indigenous partners to weave Indigenous knowledge and values into marine conservation programs. Learn more about the role of Indigenous knowledge and leadership in the protection of nature and culture.
- The return of the sea otter
Kuu (sea otters) are returning to Gwaii Haanas after a long absence, sending out ripples of change across both the ecosystem and the community.
- Sea garden restoration
Coast Salish peoples care for their beaches using traditional practices such as removing kelp and sea lettuce, creating highly productive sea gardens.
- Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and the wrecks of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror
Inuit knowledge passed down generations led to the discovery of these wrecks at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean.
- What a national park reserve in Pituamkek (Hog Island Sandhills) means
Pituamkek, a culturally significant area for the Mi’kmaq, is home of multiple archaeological sites, rare geological formations, and ceremonial lands.
Protecting marine cultural heritage
Parks Canada is responsible for protecting nationally significant examples of cultural heritage and sharing the stories of these treasured places. From heritage rivers to lighthouses, there is an amazing array of marine places and stories to discover.
- Canadian Heritage River System
From the glacial rapids of Alsek river to the urban wanderings of the Rideau waterway, this program highlights the most outstanding Canadian rivers.
- Living Landscapes of SG̱ang Gwaay: Strengthening the land and people in a changing climate
In 2018, a windstorm blew down over a hundred trees at SG̱ang Gwaay Llnagaay. The damage provided an opportunity to delve into the history of the village. Find out what stories were uncovered below the roots of these ancient trees.
- Heritage Lighthouses of Canada
Lighthouses have long symbolized strength, safety and safe harbour. Explore some of the most iconic lighthouses in Canada.
- Underwater archaeology
Underwater archaeologists study archaeological sites found below the surface of the water. They work in rivers, lakes and the ocean. Learn more about the underwater treasures found in Parks Canada administered sites.
Take action to protect the ocean
It's your turn to take action! Parks Canada offers several ways to get involved in protecting the ocean.
- Take a #Coastie: When you take a photo of yourself, that’s a selfie. When you take a photo of the coast, that’s a Coastie! The Coastie Initiative is a new citizen science program in collaboration with the University of Windsor. Pictures taken by visitors help us monitor coastal change over time. Take a Coastie for yourself at one of these locations:
- Prince Edward Island National Park
- Kouchibouguac National Park
- Fundy National Park
- Point Pelee National Park
- Sable Island National Park Reserve
- Kejimkujik National Park
- Cape Breton Highlands National Park
- Forillon National Park
- Gros Morne National Park
- Team up and clean up the shore
Pick up a shoreline cleanup kit, gather your friends and family, and head for the shoreline! Help Parks Canada identify sources of litter by taking part in this citizen science initiative.
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