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Offshore Islands Southeast of Nain (LB005)


Offshore Islands Southeast of Nain (LB005)

Nain, Newfoundland and Labrador

Latitude 56.275°N
Longitude 60.584°W
Altitude 0 - 75m
Area 531.56km²

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.

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.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Atlantic Puffin
Number Year Season
Number Year Season