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A Journey to a New Land

Boat and Bear

Coastal Refugia

The Cordilleran ice sheet blanketed British Columbia during the ice age and was long thought to have reached all the way across the outer coast to the Pacific Ocean. Scientists have recently discovered, though, that some areas of land on offshore islands were ice free for all or part of the ice age.

At Port Eliza Cave on Vancouver Island, scientists have found the remains of animals such as martens, mountain goats, and marmots, along with bird and fish remains, dating to between 16,000 – 18,000 years ago. Ancient plant pollen was also preserved in the cave. Based on the types of plants and animals that were living in the Port Eliza Cave, scientists think that the environment would have been cool, open, partially-treed grassland.

Port Eliza Cave photos

Port Eliza Cave

Port Eliza Cave,
Vancouver Island

Bones found in the cave

These are some of the animal bones found in the cave.


It's dirty work!


No one knows for sure whether humans were living in coastal refugia during the ice age, but if animals and plants were able to survive there during the ice age, then it is certainly possible that humans could have inhabited these areas as well.