Banc de Carleton is a sandspit near the town of Carleton, in Chaleur Bay, Québec. The Carleton sandbar is approximately 2 km long and has a north-south orientation. It begins from the main land toward, and almost reaches, the end of another spit the Larocque sandbar. This sandbar begins at Pointe de Bourque and stretches in an east-west direction. Only 200 metres separate the two sandbars. It is not included in the IBA because it is mainly used as a provincial campground. The average temperature in this region is 3.7°C.
Banc de Carleton was once home to the largest tern colony in eastern Quebec. Censuses conducted between 1979 and 1995 indicate that an average of 612 pairs nested per year, or about 1.2% of the North American population estimate for this species at this time. Unfortunately, since the early 2000s, this species has completely ceased to nest here. Predation and human disturbance is most likely the cause. See Conservation Issues below.
It also appears that breeding populations of gulls are experiencing similar declines/disappearances. Between 1979 and 1989, 40 and 136 pairs (respectively) of Herring Gulls were counted at this site. In 1979, 29 pairs of Great Black-backed Gulls were also observed. The most recent surveys (2002 and 2008) however indicate that these species have virtually disappeared from the site as well.
Recreational development and disturbance of birds are the two main threats to bird colonies. Banc de Carleton can be easily accessed and is located near a town with over 3000 inhabitants. Larocque (camping) is nearby and located just south of the IBA.
To help conserve terns and gulls and other species, the site was officially designated as a Wildlife Refuge in 1995 by the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune (MNRF). However, since the early 2000s, terns have completely ceased to nest here. Predation of young by gulls and red fox, flooding of nests by tides and human disturbance are the most likely causes for their disappearance. Herring Gulls have virtually disappeared from the site as well.
This region is typified by a mosaic of habitats which host a wide range of marine and migratory species. The barachois, the eelgrass beds and the river's estuaries are key habitats for many species of fish and shellfish such as sticklebacks, winter flounder and soft-shell clam. At sea, the Atlantic mackerel, the Atlantic herring, the rainbow smelt, the American lobster, the snow crab, the common crab and the scallop are harvested commercially.The presence of several salmon rivers in the area attracts many anglers. These rivers are also home to brook trout and American eel.
The major pressures on the ichthyofauna are overfishing and destruction of fish habitat, such as the draining of wetlands and the modification of the shoreline (erosion, riprap). Forestry is also a threat because it causes significant alterations in the rivers of the area, such as increasing the sediment load, the modification of both water flow and water temperature.
Major species present:
American sand lance
Atlantic sea scallop