The Shigawake-Newport site is a 40 km strip of coast, on the north shore of Baié des Chaleur, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, between Shigawake and Newport. The site includes the offshore water in a one-kilometre strip, and a section of inland habitat that is approximately 300 meters wide. At Port-Daniel Bay the site extends further inland (3 km) to include a small sandbar. The Mahy Islands, a small group of low rocky islands, are located in Port-Daniel Bay.
The coastal habitat consists of a series of small bays, cliffs and rocky points, while inland habitat is comprised of mainly shrubby areas, forests and fields. On the sandbar, there is a grassy area with large patches of Eelgrass nearby.
Shigawake-Newport is notable for its spring season seaducks and the presence of the nationally endangered eastern Harlequin Duck, which is present in all ice-free seasons. A three-year average of 156 birds (1989,1998,1999) has been recorded during spring migration. This is 13% of the eastern population of Harlequin Duck. During fall migration, over the same three years, an average of 56 birds has been recorded. Smaller numbers of moulting birds are present in July. The adjacent Pot-Daniel River is thought to be a breeding location for this species.
Groups of diving ducks - Common Eider and Surf, Black, and White-winged scoters - occur in nationally significant numbers (10,000-12,000) in the spring. Small numbers of Barrow's Goldeneye's are also sometimes seen.
Several seabird colonies are scattered along the coast. Eight colonies with a cumulative total of 5,539 pairs of birds were recorded in 1989. A total of 1,431 Herring Gull pairs were found in 1989; this is more than 1% of this species' North American population. Historically, Herring Gulls nested in much higher numbers - 3,360 pairs nested on the Mahy Islands alone in 1976. The Great Black-backed Gull, also nested in this site in large numbers in 1989, with 453 pairs (over 1% of the global population) recorded.
Other species nesting within the Shigawake-Newport site include Black Guillemot (230 pairs in 1989), Double-crested Cormorant (804 pairs in 1989) and Black-legged Kittiwake (559 pairs in 1989).
Boat traffic, both recreational and commercial, and off-road vehicle use on beaches in the Shigawake-Newport area is likely disturbing birds. Because Baie des Chaleurs is an important seaway, oil spills also pose a risk. A cement plant and marine terminal are also planned at Port-Daniel.
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. At the beginning of the summer, capelin is rolling on the beaches to spawn. 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
|10 - 16||1993||Spring|