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Big Glace Bay Lake (NS007)


Big Glace Bay Lake (NS007)

Glace Bay, Nova Scotia

Latitude 46.170°N
Longitude 59.938°W
Altitude 0 - 3m
Area 16.19km²

Site Description

Big Glace Bay Lake is located on the northeast shore of Cape Breton Island, in eastern Nova Scotia, immediately adjoining the eastern border of the town of Glace Bay. The lake is actually a coastal lagoon enclosed by a barrier beach, with one tidal opening at the northeastern end. The barrier beach is comprised of gravel and sand, and sparse vegetation. More than half of the lagoon area is exposed at low tide as mud and sand flats or intertidal beds of eel grass. Industrial plants (thermal power, former heavy water) adjoin the western side of the lagoon. The shores of the lagoon are low-lying, although low cliffs fringe the seacoast to the east and west. In the winter, the sea usually remains open, except when winds press sea ice onshore in the spring. The tidal range at this site is 2 to 3 m.


Canada Geese from the Newfoundland and Labrador breeding population are found at Big Glace Bay Lake in significant numbers during the spring and fall migrations as well as in smaller numbers during the winter. A total of 1,500 birds, representing about 1.3% of the estimated population, are regularly observed at this site during spring migration.

Goose surveys at this site are sporadic, often not specifying which of several nearby areas (Lingan Bay, Big Glace Bay Lake, Morien Bay, Mira Bay) were used on each date, but continentally significant numbers are certainly found here. Maximum counts during spring have reached totals of 6,000 birds.

Although this site is regularly used by ducks, shorebirds and terns, high concentrations of these birds have not been recorded here. Willets and American Black Ducks frequent the salt marsh, and Piping Plovers have been recorded on the beach.

Conservation Issues

This site includes one of only a handful of sand beaches adjacent to the Glace Bay/Sydney area, which is the second largest urban area (125,000 pop.) in Nova Scotia. A private road on the east side of the beach means that motor vehicles can continue to access the beach, despite attempts by the landowner to gate the road.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Black-headed Gull
Number Year Season
6 - 102000Winter
5 - 91998Fall
Piping Plover
Number Year Season