IBA Offshore Islands Southeast of Nain
Nain, Labrador
Site Summary
LB005 Latitude
56.275° N
60.584° W
0 - 75 m
531.56 km²
sedge/grass meadows, open sea, coastal cliffs/rocky shores (marine)
Land Use:
Fisheries/aquaculture, Hunting
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Egg-collecting, Hunting, Oil slicks
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Colonial Waterbirds/Seabird Concentrations
Conservation status: IBA Conservation Plan written/being written
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Site Description
To the southeast of Nain (about 375km northeast of Goose Bay) a series of offshore islands support large numbers of nesting seabirds. These islands include Pyramid, Barbican, the Castle, Negro, Ukallik, Kidlit and Nunaksuk. The mainland is anywhere from 30 to 60 km to the west. These islands are composed mostly of bare granitic rock with scattered patches of tussock grasses. The topography is variable, with some of the islands being steep-sided and dome-shaped, while others rise more gradually. Polar Bears use these offshore islands year-round.
In the late 1970s large numbers of colonial seabirds were recorded on these islands. At least three species were present in significant numbers: Atlantic Puffins (12,240 pairs - over 3% of the estimated North American population); Razorbills (815 pairs about 2.2% of the estimated North American population); and Glaucous Gulls (350 pairs 1.4% of the estimated North American population, although the population is poorly known). The largest puffin colonies are found on The Castle (4,200 pairs), Nunaksuk Island (3,400 pairs) and Kidlit Island (2,200 pairs); the Razorbills are spread amongst all of the islands; and the Glaucous Gulls are located primarily on Ukallik Island (240 pairs). Other nesting seabirds that occur in large numbers include Thick-billed Murres (8,000 pairs), Common Murres (2,260 pairs), and Black Guillemots (341 pairs). Nesting Great Black-backed Gulls, Herring Gulls are also present. In all, about 24,000 pairs of nesting seabirds were recorded on these islands. No recent seabird surveys have been completed.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Atlantic Puffin 1978 SU 24,480
Razorbill 1978 SU 1,630
Note: species shown in bold indicate that the maximum number exceeds at least one of the IBA thresholds (sub-regional, regional or global). The site may still not qualify for that level of IBA if the maximum number reflects an exceptional or historical occurrence.
Conservation Issues
The Inuit have used the islands southeast of Nain for bird hunting and egg collecting for hundreds of years. Although the impact of this activity is unknown, it is likely minimal. A much greater threat is the development of the recently discovered Voisey Bay nickel deposit. The proposed shipping route, which would be used to bring supplies to the mine site and to ship the ore out to the smelters, passes through this island group. A major oil spill (or even chronic spills associated with ongoing ship maintenance) could have major impacts on these colonies.

The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Bird Studies Canada and Nature Canada.
   © Bird Studies Canada