IBA Boatswain Bay
James Bay, Nunavut
Site Summary
NU097 Latitude
51.838° N
78.880° W
0 - 5 m
158.45 km²
salt marshes/brackish marshes, open sea, inlets/coastal features (marine)
Land Use:
Not Utilized (Natural Area)
Potential or ongoing Threats:
IBA Criteria: Continentally Significant: Congregatory Species, Waterfowl Concentrations
Conservation status: Migratory Bird Sanctuary (federal)
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Site Description
Boatswain Bay is a semi-circular bay in the southeast section of James Bay. Fort Rupert, Quebec is 40 km to the south. The offshore islands and waters of this site are part of Nunavut, while the mainland is part of Quebec. This site contains one of only two salt marshes on the Quebec side of James Bay. The land slowly rises from the sea, first in the form of mud flats, and then to two salt marsh habitats. The first saltmarsh is spikerush and the second is a mixture of sedges and grasses. The north end of the marsh, at 1.6 km in width is the widest part of the marsh. Further inland, beyond the IBA boundaries, willows and spruce dominate.
This part of the waterfowl-rich James Bay coastline, hosts large numbers of Canada Geese, Brant, and Snow Geese in the spring. In a 1972 survey, over 14,800 Canada Geese, 3,000 Lesser Snow Geese and 535 Atlantic Brant were recorded. Geese also use the bay in the fall; Brant are particularly numerous with 2,474 birds recorded in 1972. This is 2% of the current population of Atlantic Brant, assuming no significant change in the Brant population.

Large numbers of American Black Ducks stage, moult, and nest in the area, and shorebirds migrate through in good numbers as well. Specific numbers for these species are unknown.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Brant 2002 FA 3,000
Semipalmated Plover 2017 FA 3,136
Waterbirds 1972 SP 17,800
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
Although there are no local land-use problems affecting Boatswain Bay, it is not known if the enormous La Grande Rivire hydro development has negatively affected the east coast of James Bay. Sedimentation and salinity patterns may have been altered by the irregular outflow of the river. This area has been recognized as a Key Migratory Bird Terrestrial Habitat site by the Canadian Wildlife Service.

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