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Cobequid Bay (NS019)

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Cobequid Bay (NS019)

Bay of Fundy (near Truro), Nova Scotia

Latitude 45.345°N
Longitude 63.697°W
Altitude 0 - 5m
Area 477.68km²

Site Description

The eastern arm of the Bay of Fundy can be divided into two areas: the lower Minas Basin (IBA # NS020) and the upper Cobequid Bay. Cobequid Bay is a long (40 km) point-shaped bay that widens from 1.5 km at its eastern end, to 15 km at its juncture with Minas Basin. The coast and shoreline of the bay consists of beaches and mudflats with substrates ranging from fine silts to coarse sands, depending on the currents and distances to various sediment sources. At low tide, vast areas of mud and sand flats, and salt marshes are exposed - the result of the highest tides in the world (up to 16 m), which are found in the Bay of Fundy. The rich red-brown mud harbors millions of the amphipod, the Fundy mud shrimp (Corophium volutator), a vital food source for many shorebirds, particularly Semipalmated Sandpipers. The Cobequid Bay IBA includes the following areas: Economy, Highland Village, Little Dyke, Black Rock, Stirling Brook, Noel Shore, Noel Bay and Moose Cove.

Birds

Between 1 and 2 million shorebirds use the mud flats of the head of the Bay of Fundy (in this and other adjacent IBAs) in the fall for staging before the southern migration. The availability of such a prodigious food supply attracts 50 to 95% of the world total of Semipalmated Sandpipers, along with many other species of shorebirds, to the Bay of Fundy. The Cobequid Bay and other regions in the Bay of Fundy are the last and most important stopovers for the sandpipers, where they build up fat stores enabling them to make the long non-stop southward migration flight over the Atlantic Ocean to South America in three to four days. In July and early August, over 40,000 Semipalmated Sandpipers (representing approximately 1.2% of the global population) have been recorded in Cobequid Bay. In addition, over 10% of the North American population of Semipalmated Plovers were counted in Cobequid Bay. Black-bellied Plovers are the only shorebirds that are found at the Bay of Fundy in equally large concentrations during both spring and fall migration, when up to almost 1000 have been observed. These numbers are based on data from 1974 to 1983 using an improved estimation method that was reported in Canadian Field Naturalist in 1993.

The diversity of shorebirds found in the Bay of Fundy in the fall also includes: Red Knot, Sanderling, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher and White-rumped Sandpipers.

In addition to the shorebirds, substantial migrations of Canada Geese (2.6% of Newfoundland and Labrador population) can be seen in Cobequid Bay.

Conservation Issues

Cobequid Bay is a proposed Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve, under the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN). Many shorebird surveys have been conducted between 1975 and 1987 but, aside from an aerial survey in 1997, there have been no recent studies. There is some concern about excessive use of the beaches at high tide, including disturbances from dogs that are not leashed.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Semipalmated Plover
Number Year Season
5,4971994Fall
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Number Year Season
20,000 - 30,0002014Fall
43,5361994Summer
Savannah Sparrow
Number Year Season
202016Fall
Purple Sandpiper
Number Year Season
1941991Winter
2151990Winter