Seven Islands Bay is located in northern Labrador roughly midway between Eclipse Channel to the north and Cape Daley to the south. The 60km coastline is rocky with frequent long fjord-like bays. High rocky headlands and many small islets, isolated rocks, and shoals characterize the coast. The Labrador Current flows south over the area, with these coastal waters being mostly ice-covered from December to June.
In July 1994, the Canadian Wildlife Service discovered a concentration of 327 Harlequin Ducks (the eastern population has been designated as nationally endangered). This represents as much as 22% of the estimated eastern North American population, and is the largest concentration of Harlequin Ducks ever recorded in Labrador. The timing of the survey (early July) suggests that the birds were staging in premoult flocks. Although it is thought that the birds likely moulted in this area, it is possible that the birds later moved to other locations. The birds were spread along the coast, mostly in groups of 5 to 20, but two groups of 60 to 70 were also recorded.
Satellite tracking indicated that some of the birds in the flock had originated from breeding grounds in the Gaspé Peninsula, Québec. It was believed that these Harlequins had migrated to the Seven Islands Bay area to moult, but it is not known whether they stayed in the area since their transmitters failed shortly after arrival. In addition to Harlequin Ducks, Common Eiders (over 770 breeding birds in 1994) are found within the Seven Islands Bay area. A survey in 1980 revealed 365 Common Eider nests, 207 of which were located on Hog Island.
In 1990, the eastern North American Harlequin Duck was designated as nationally endangered because of its small population size (estimated at 1000) and apparent population declines. In 1995, a national recovery plan was written for the species. The plan identified four distinct Harlequin Duck populations, of which only one, the Pacific, is 'healthy' and the other three (Icelandic, Greenland and eastern North American) are of special conservation concern. Some of the threats to Harlequin Ducks outlined in the plan include habitat loss due to hydroelectric developments, disturbance from military low-level flying, habitat degradation from forestry, and resource extraction industries. Since the plan was written, some new discoveries have been made, like the birds located at the Seven Islands Bay and the movement of North American birds to wintering areas in Greenland. It is now thought that the eastern North American population of Harlequin Ducks may number as many as 1,500 individuals.Catégories ZICO Habitats Usages Menaces Potencielles ou Existantes Status de Protection