Full Site

Tabusintac Lagoon & River Estuary (NB002)


Tabusintac Lagoon & River Estuary (NB002)

Tabusintac, New Brunswick

Latitude 47.340°N
Longitude 64.950°W
Altitude 0 - 8m
Area 76.21km²

Site Description

The Tabusintac lagoon and River Estuary is located on the Acadian Peninsula (NE New Brunswick) approximately 50 km northeast of Chatham, New Brunswick. The 4,382 ha site contains a variety of habitats including estuarine flats, salt marsh, sand dunes and beaches, saline ponds, inshore islands and shoreline black spruce - jack pine forests. The inner bay is protected from the sea by a 15 km long barrier beach and dune system. Within this protected area extensive eel grass beds are found which contribute to the overall productivity of the system, especially for waterfowl. It is typical of other beaches in the region with the dominant plant species being marram grass, beach pea and sea rocket.


The Tabusintac beach system is an important breeding site for the globally vulnerable, and nationally endangered Piping Plover. In 1996, 5 pairs were found nesting, along with 2 additional birds. This represented almost 3% of the 1996 Canadian Maritimes population and is thus of national significance. Six pairs were present in 1997. The site has a long history of Piping Plover usage with the average number of individual plovers over the last ten years being 14.5.

In addition to Piping Plovers, the Tabusintac beach system is also extremely important for Common Terns. It supports the second largest colony of common terns in Atlantic Canada. In 1992, 3,700 pairs were recorded and in recent years the population has increased (a recent estimate has not been completed). The 1992 estimate comprises approximately 7.4% of the North American population and is thus of international significance.

The area also has high levels of waterfowl use during spring and fall migration with flocks in excess of 1,000 individuals being present regularly. Waterfowl species often occurring at the site include American Black Duck, Canada Goose, teal, scaup, and Red-breasted Mergansers.

Other ornithological information of note includes a large Great Blue Heron colony in the Covedell Peninsula area, and numerous Osprey nests in the uplands of the Tabusintac Black Lands. Populations of both these species may have declined somewhat in recent years.

Conservation Issues

Land stewardship is one of the most significant conservation issues within the site. A large portion of the barrier beach remains undeeded resulting in problems with squatters. Small areas are provincial Crown land, but the rest of the remaining area is owned privately by several landowners. The provincial government has initiated a land stewardship program to help increase ecological awareness in the area.

The entire Tabusintac Lagoon and River Estuary was designated as a Ramsar site in 1993. This has assisted in highlighting the ecological significance of the site. Currently, several initiatives are underway to increase the amount of protected land. Within the complex, approximately 124 ha of the Black Lands has been designated as a provincial ecological reserve. Over the past few years, the Nature Conservancy of Canada has purchased 5 properties totaling over 200 ha. As well, a specific area within the Tabusintac River estuary is closed to migratory bird hunting.

The Tabusintac sandspit has been identified as a core nesting site in the New Brunswick Atlas of Piping Plover Beaches. Current management / conservation activities in the area include: stewardship agreements with private landowners, symbolic fencing to close off sensitive areas, and Piping Plover nest monitoring (to determine reasons for poor productivity). A Piping Plover Guardian Program has been developed throughout the Maritimes to assist in the conservation and recovery of the species.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Piping Plover
Number Year Season
4 - 72019Summer
9 - 232018Summer
6 - 102018Spring
4 - 112017Fall
5 - 222017Summer
6 - 92017Spring
5 - 142016Fall
10 - 182016Summer
5 - 132016Spring
4 - 122015Summer
6 - 252014Summer
4 - 72013Fall
9 - 182013Summer
9 - 152012Summer
6 - 212011Summer
14 - 212010Summer
4 - 202007Summer
3 - 242006Summer
8 - 132003Summer
10 - 141992Summer
Common Tern
Number Year Season