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Cape Porcupine (LB020)


Cape Porcupine (LB020)

Cartwright, Newfoundland and Labrador

Latitude 53.950°N
Longitude 57.226°W
Altitude 0 - 50m
Area 122.92km²

Site Description

Cape Porcupine is located just south of Hamilton Inlet and north of Sandwich Bay on the southern coast of Labrador. The cape divides a 40 km long stretch of sand beach known as the Porcupine Strand. South of Cape Porcupine the Strand extends 15 km from Trunmore Bay to Duck Point. To the north, the Porcupine Strand stretches a farther 25 km to Fish Cove Point. Along much of the beach length, boreal forest or barrens start abruptly from the highest tide line. Unlike the majority of the Labrador coastline, there are very few large offshore islands near Cape Porcupine. The full force of the high seas is prevented from reaching most of the beach by small offshore islands and shallow waters.


Cape Porcupine is a globally significant site for scoters. All three species (Surf, White-winged, Black) are found in the area, though Surf Scoters make up the vast majority of the birds present. In June of 1994, over 10,000 scoters (mainly Surf) were recorded, which represents over 1% of the estimated North American Surf Scoter population. These birds were likely staging in their premoulting season, which occurs primarily in June and July. At this time scoters are dispersed over Groswater Bay (to the north) and Porcupine Strand. Additional results of premoult scoter surveys are: 2,068 June 1980, and 1,000 July 1998. These birds were counted across the entire 40 km of the Porcupine Strand. The only survey conducted during the moult season found 4,674 scoters (mostly Surf) on the Southern Porcupine Strand (Trunmore Bay). At this time there were no scoters found on the Northern Porcupine Strand or in southern Groswater Bay. During the moulting period scoters tend to accumulate in dense flocks. The 1998 surveys indicate that Trunmore Bay, with nearly 5,000 scoters, is the second most important moulting site in the Groswater Bay area. Scoters are commonly observed feeding in the surf a few meters off the beach. It is likely that they are foraging on shellfish on the shallow, sandy bottom.

Conservation Issues

Hunters from Cartwright include the Porcupine Strand as part of their large hunting area, however the numbers of birds shot is unknown.

The shipping route into Goose Bay and Cartwright passes close to Cape Porcupine. Any oil spills from these ships would threaten a large number of waterfowl that are unable to fly.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Surf Scoter
Number Year Season