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Seal River Estuary (MB013)


Seal River Estuary (MB013)

Churchill, Manitoba

Latitude 59.063°N
Longitude 94.782°W
Altitude 0 - 5m
Area 358.30km²

Site Description

The Seal River Estuary site is located at the mouth of the Seal River, where it empties into the west coast of Hudson Bay. To the southeast is the town of Churchill while the Manitoba-Nunavut border is just to the north. This estuary is mostly rocky with some coniferous forest, willows, tundra and, due to the 4-metre tides, mud and sand flats. The Seal River Estuary is along the migration route of Caribou, and Timber Wolves use the area for breeding. On peak days, the estuary can contain a few thousand Beluga Whales and many of them are present in summer for breeding, calving and staging for migration.


The Seal River Estuary is globally significant for migrating Black Scoters, with 2,000 or more (just over 1% of the North American population) being seen regularly in spring on peak days. White-winged and Surf Scoters are also seen in good numbers, with 1,000 and 250 or more on peaks days in spring, respectively.

Tundra Swans peak at over 250 per day in spring while two species of loons migrate past the site in spring: Pacific Loon (200 or more on peak days) and Red-throated Loon (80 or more on peak days).

Conservation Issues

The Seal River Estuary is a fairly remote site so the only land uses are aboriginal fur-bearing mammal trapping and small amounts of ecotourism. The Seal River is officially designated as a national heritage river. An ecotourism facility is at the mouth of the river within the Seal River Estuary site. There is the potential for conflicts to occur between the operators of this facility and local aboriginal communities.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Pectoral Sandpiper
Number Year Season
495 - 9212013Fall
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Number Year Season
Black Scoter
Number Year Season