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Nelson River Estuary & Marsh Point (MB008)


Nelson River Estuary & Marsh Point (MB008)

Hudson Bay Coast, Manitoba

Latitude 57.115°N
Longitude 92.348°W
Altitude 0 - 3m
Area 702.86km²

Site Description

The Nelson River empties into western Hudson Bay about 150 km downstream from Gillam, Manitoba. Marsh Point protrudes into Hudson Bay between the outlets of the Nelson River on the west and the Hayes River on the east. The substrate of this area consists of fine sand and gravel deposits. The land between the estuaries of these two rivers is known as Marsh Point and is extremely flat. It contains extensive tracts of grasses and willows interspersed with many bogs and small clumps of Black Spruce. There are no major rock outcroppings in the area. The land behind the Nelson River estuary is boggy and has extensive expanses of stunted spruce. The gently sloping tidal flats receive tides that reach four metres.

Mammals found at this site include Polar Bear, Caribou, Timber Wolf and Beluga Whale. This site is a major summer staging, breeding and calving area that contains as many as a few thousand Belugas on peak days.


Over 1,000 Black Scoters have been recorded here in the spring. If these birds are all of the eastern Black Scoter population then this represents about 1.5% of this population.

In the fall, this site supports congregations of North American Ruddy Turnstones (ssp. morinella), with 600 or more being reported in one day; the total for the fall season would be much higher considering turnover rates. Other species of shorebirds found at this site in the fall include Semipalmated Sandpiper (1,000), Dunlin (400), and Least Sandpiper (650). Other waterbirds found include White-winged Scoter (1,000), Surf Scoter (300), Sandhill Crane (75) and Bonaparte's Gull (850). Bald Eagles are also frequently seen.

Conservation Issues

This site has relatively few threats facing its habitat and bird fauna due to its remote, northern location. In light of unemployment problems at this site, both the provincial and federal government are promoting eco-tourism at this site. This could potentially have negative effects on local wildlife if not managed properly.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Hudsonian Godwit
Number Year Season
Rusty Blackbird
Number Year Season
60 - 802009Fall
Red Knot
Number Year Season
985 - 4,5322014Summer