IBA Cape Tryon
North Shore, Prince Edward Island
Site Summary
PE012 Latitude
46.529° N
63.512° W
0 - 35 m
21.13 km²
open sea, coastal cliffs/rocky shores (marine)
Land Use:
Agriculture, Fisheries/aquaculture
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Agricultural pollution/pesticides, Disturbance, Persecution
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species
Conservation status: IBA Conservation Plan written/being written
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Site Description
Cape Tryon is located on the north (Gulf of St. Lawrence) coast of central Prince Edward Island. It is about 14 km northeast of the town of Kensington, and about 3 km to the west of the entrance to New London Bay. Prince Edward Island National Park is located farther to the east. The site is on northward facing sea cliffs (comprised of Permian sandstone) that are about 35 m high, with open sea below. Above the site, the tablelands consist of an undulating, cultivated plateau that abuts the sea. The northern exposure of the cliff-face presumably creates a cooler microclimate during the spring than do other exposures.
Cape Tryon is the oldest known cormorant colony in P.E.I., with population estimates dating back to 1941. It is also the only site in P.E.I. where both Great Cormorants and Double-crested Cormorants regularly nest.

From 1987 to 1998, the average number of Great Cormorants nests on the cliffs was about 122; this represents almost 2% of the estimated North American population of this species. Much higher numbers are recorded in some years, with as many as 400 nests recorded in 1988.

Even larger numbers of Double-crested Cormorants nest at Cape Tryon, with the average number recorded over the 1987 to 1998 period being 422 nests. The estimated Atlantic Coast population of Double-crested Cormorants, however, is much larger (about 90,000 pairs), which makes this site of less proportional significance to this species.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Buff-breasted Sandpiper 1994 FA 35
Great Cormorant 1978 - 1994 SU 254 - 800
Piping Plover 1996 - 1997 FA 4 - 5
Piping Plover 1994 - 2000 SU 4 - 17
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
There is a general fishery prejudice against cormorants (black birds) that often leads to sporadic raids on colonies. However, there is less evidence of this here than at other sites in the Maritimes. Generally, colonies are disturbed less often if they are located farther away from fishing ports and are difficult to access.

There is heavy use of agricultural pesticides in P.E.I. which is recognized as a potential threat to human health and (via runoff) fisheries. Undoubtedly bioaccumulation is occurring within the ecosystem and may be having impact on the productivity of the cormorant colonies, although these impacts are unassessed as of yet.

The marine areas adjacent to the site are overseen by the federal Fisheries and Oceans Department, with the adjacent tablelands and cliff faces being privately owned. The Prince Edward Island Fish and Wildlife Division surveys the cormorant populations at Cape Tryon annually.

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