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Witless Bay Islands (NF002)


Witless Bay Islands (NF002)

Mobile, Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador

Latitude 47,223°N
Longitude 52,792°O
Altitude 0 - 86m
Superficie 62,08km²

Description du site

The Witless Bay Islands are located 4 km off the east coast of the Avalon Peninsula, approximately 35 km south of St. John?s, Newfoundland. The site consists of four small islands: Green, Great, Gull, and Pee Pee. All are rocky, with low cliffs and steep, grassy slopes. The two larger islands, Great and Gull, also support coniferous forest communities.


The Witless Bay Islands support a globally significant colony of breeding seabirds. Great Island, in particular supports the largest colony of Atlantic Puffins in eastern North America. A breeding population of more than 216,000 breeding pairs (some on Gull island as well) was estimated in 1994. This represents approximately 3.6% of the global population and possibly as much as 57% of the eastern North America population.

Also present on the Witless Bay Islands are impressive numbers of Leach's Storm-Petrels, Common Murres, Black-legged Kittiwakes and Herring Gulls. Nearly 780,000 pairs of Leach's Storm Petrels have been recorded in the area (the majority breeding on Great and Gull Islands). This estimate represents approximately 9.5% of the global and 16% of the western Atlantic population. Approximately 77,500 pairs of Common Murres have also been reported (almost 2% of the Atlantic and over 13% of the eastern North American breeding population). Black-legged Kittiwakes also breed on the islands. Approximately 43,500 pairs have been estimated, which represents as much as 16 to 22% of the western Atlantic breeding population. Approximately 7,000 pairs of Herring Gulls (approximately 5% of the eastern North America population) have also been recorded. Other species of seabirds nesting on these islands include Great Black-backed Gulls, Black Guillemots, Thick-billed Murres, Razorbills, and Northern Fulmars. The marine areas surrounding the islands are also important for migrating sea ducks such as White-winged and Surf Scoter, Oldsquaws, and Common Eiders.

Enjeux de conservation

The Witless Bay Seabird Sanctuary Ecological Reserve, which includes Gull, Green, and Great Islands, was established in December, 1983 under the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act. As a result, the islands are shielded from most direct threats. There is however, increasing concern about the levels of ecotourism. During the peak of the season, as many as 10 to 15 tour boats per day visit the area. The auks, in particular, appear to be sensitive to the disturbance.

The colony is a base for a series of long-term ecological studies of seabirds, sponsored by the Canadian Wildlife Service and Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Catégories ZICO Habitats Usages Menaces Potencielles ou Existantes Status de Protection
Petit Pingouin
Nombre Année Saison
750 - 500 0002014Été
1 0002010Été
Macareux moine
Nombre Année Saison
8 000 - 100 0002017Automne
100 0002017Été
10 000 - 100 0002017Printemps
8 0002016Automne
50 0002016Été
10 0002016Printemps
15 000 - 20 0002015Été
20 000 - 500 0002014Été
15 0002013Automne
70 0002013Été
10 0002011Automne
100 0002011Été
20 0002010Été
10 0002010Printemps
10 000 - 20 0002009Été
10 000 - 100 0002008Été
10 0002006Été
9 000 - 10 0002003Été
10 0002000Automne
432 0001994Été
Guillemot marmette
Nombre Année Saison
250 0002017Printemps
250 000 - 500 0002016Été
100 0002014Automne
100 000 - 800 0002014Été
25 0002013Automne
20 0002013Été
25 0002011Été
50 0002010Été
30 0002010Printemps
50 0002009Été
20 0002008Été
155 0001985Autre
Océanite cul-blanc
Nombre Année Saison
1 560 0001994Été
Mouette rieuse
Nombre Année Saison
Mouette tridactyle
Nombre Année Saison
25 0002014Été
50 0002013Automne
87 0001985Été
Goéland argenté
Nombre Année Saison
5 0002013Automne
10 0002011Automne
13 9901994Été