When we think of wolves we have an image of a pack loping through the trees, hunting together and howling at the moon. But wolves are a diverse species and not all of them are the same. One of the most elusive types are the coastal wolves found on the shore of Canada’s Vancouver Island. Also known as sea wolves, this population of gray wolf is known to feed on salmon, river otters, seals and whale carcasses.
Two populations have been recorded, with mainland coastal wolves and coastal inland. The mainland are known to forage near the sea, though they eat less fish than their coastal cousins. Coastal wolves are roughly the size of a German Shepherd, being smaller than other wolves in Canada.
Coastal island wolves are dedicated to the ocean, with their genes proving it. A study carried out in 2014 showed coastal wolves have different DNA to their inland breatheren. Although it’s not uncommon for genetic differences to show up, it’s interesting to note that the wolves aren’t seperated by large distances.
The wolves spend a lot of their time swimming between islands, scavenging for food. The furthest distance recorded was to an archipeligo 7.5 miles out to sea. The number of sea wolves has decreased over time, as they once roamed all the way to California. Most of the population is located in southeastern Alaska, with many making the journey to Vancouver.
Sea wolves are a strong example of a species that has adapted to the environment they live in. It’s a good indication of the intelligence of wolves and how they continue to survive despite persecution. Wolves deserve to be treated with the same amount of respect as any other animal. We should all do our part to safeguard them while they are still around.