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.

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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.

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Map description

A map of Canada showing the types of sites administered by Parks Canada that fall along a water route within a major watershed. The map illustrates five major watersheds across Canada, shown in different textures. Each watershed has a major water route. The water route appears as an arrow that represents a major river that flows from inland to an ocean.

From left to right:

The Pacific Ocean watershed contains the Pacific Ocean Water Route. The map shows the Fraser River starting at Jasper National Park. It flows into the Pacific Ocean (Georgia Strait) through multiple channels. Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve are situated along the Pacific Ocean.

The Arctic Ocean watershed contains the Arctic Ocean Water Route. The map shows the McKenzie River starting at Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve. It flows past Pingo National Landmark and Ivvavik National Park into the Arctic Ocean. Aulavik National Park and Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area are also located along the Arctic Ocean.

The Hudson Bay watershed contains the Hudson Bay Water Route. The map shows the Nelson River starting at Riding Mountain National Park. It flows past Wapusk National Park into the Hudson Bay.

The Gulf of Mexico watershed contains the Gulf of Mexico Water Route. The map shows the Mississippi River watershed within Canada. It flows all the way into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Atlantic Ocean watershed contains the Atlantic Ocean Water Route. The map shows the St. Lawrence River starting at Fathom Five National Marine Park in the Great Lakes. Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area also shares the Great Lake waters. The water route flows down the St. Lawrence River past Thousand Islands National Park, Saguenay-St. Lawrence National Marine Conservation Area, Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, and Forillon National Park. It empties into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, where Kouchibouguac National Park, Prince Edward Island National Park, Gros Morne National Park, and Cape Breton Highlands National Park are situated along. The Gulf then empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The following Parks Canada administered sites are along the Atlantic Ocean: Terra Nova National Park, Sable Island National Park Reserve, Halifax Defence Complex, Kejimkujik National Park Seaside, and St. Andrews Blockhouse National Historic Site.


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.

Girl playing with kite at Horseshoe Beach. Pukaskwa National Park

In person

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?
Canoeists on Lake Kathleen

From home

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:

A group of three swimmers look for salmon in the Upper Salmon River in Fundy National Park during a Swim with Salmon program in early fall.

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:

A Mi'kmaq woman on the shore overlooking the mouth of the Hillsborough River.

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.

A family enjoying time together at the Red Chairs, with Fisgard Lighthouse behind. Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site.

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.
A blue #coastie stand and interpretation sign stands on the side of a walkway overlooking Prince Edward Island National Park.

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
    Help beat plastic pollution! 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.
  • Explore over 100 sites listed on The Whale Trail to learn more about shore-based whale watching.
  • Eat sustainable seafood, using guidelines like Ocean Wise.
  • Use environmentally-friendly products to reduce ocean contamination.
  • Learn how to navigate in whale habitat.
An interpretive booth on the shores of Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area.

Come celebrate Ocean Week with us

From June 1 to 9, 2024, special activities to celebrate the ocean and all its waterways will take place at different Parks Canada locations. Join us to learn more about the wonderful creatures that live in the ocean—from phytoplankton to whales—and the importance of caring for the marine ecosystems. A wide diversity of fun and educational activities awaits the whole family!

Ocean Day at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites

June 8, from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm

Come down to Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse NHS. Parks Canada interpreters, the Southern Resident Killer Whale outreach team and several partners are ready for you to join in on the day’s festivities. You have your pick of games and activities to try. Do you want to know how a tidal pool is like a military fort; become an ally to small water creatures; create the most colourful poster celebrating Southern Resident Killer Whales; and meet local superhero Super Ollie? Join one or all programs offered throughout the day to find out how precious the ocean is and how you can help protect its inhabitants.

Cost: Regular admission

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