Full Site

Île Brion (QC007)

Search

Île Brion (QC007)

Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Québec

Latitude 47.791°N
Longitude 61.467°W
Altitude 0 - 60m
Area 16.59km²

Site Description

Île Brion is located about 16 km north of the main complex of the Magdalen Island archipelago, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The island is about 7.5 km long and has a maximum width of 1.6 km. About 75% of it is forested: the remainder being comprised of salt and freshwater marshes, rocky shores, and sandy beaches. The rocky substrate is comprised of red and gray-green sandstone. The mean annual temperature is 4.4°C and, during the summer, the average wind speed is 27 km/h. Some have suggested that the island could be viewed as an ecological microcosm of the main Magdalen Islands, with all of the main habitats from the archipelago being found in a pristine condition.

Birds

Île Brion supports significant breeding populations of several seabird species. As many as 500 adult Great Cormorants were recorded at the site in 1989, with nest counts from aerial photographs yielding an estimate of 116 nesting pairs. This represents about 1.8% of the estimated North American nesting population. Also present are large numbers of Black-legged Kittiwakes, with estimates from the late 1980s ranging from 2,000 pairs to as high as 10,000 birds. In 1989, systematic counts from aerial photographs yielded an estimate of 2,879 pairs. This suggests the presence of about 1% of the estimated western Atlantic breeding population.

In addition to Great Cormorants and Black-legged Kittiwakes, substantial numbers of Great Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls also nest on the island. Several other colonial seabirds are also present in small numbers (Razorbill, Common Murre, Black Guillemot, Atlantic Puffin, Leach's Storm-Petrel, Common and Arctic Tern, Common Eider). Also of note is a small nesting population of Horned Grebes. There are also historic records of breeding Piping Plovers (1 pair in 1982), but none have been recorded more recently. In all, about 150 bird species have been observed on the island, of which 80 have been identified as breeding species.

Conservation Issues

Between 1851 and 1972 there was permanent human occupation on Île Brion; but it is now uninhabited. About 90% of the island has been identified as a provincial ecological reserve, with access to the island now being controlled, and in some cases, completely restricted. Ecotourism pressure on the island remains moderate. On occasion, Red Fox have accessed Île Brion during the winter, and subsequently limited the breeding populations of ground nesting species like Common Eider, Leach's Storm-Petrel, Herring Gull, and Great Black-backed Gull during the following breeding season. Like other coastal sites in the Magdalen Island archipelago, Île Brion is susceptible to oil spills due to the sites location near the main shipping lanes that lead to the St. Lawrence seaway.

Fish Habitat

The area is a paradise for many marine animals, both vertebrates and invertebrates. The deep-water of Gulf harbor a variety of crustaceans, mollusks and benthic fish, including the yellowtail flounder, the winter flounder and the Atlantic halibut, a species highly prized by commercial fishermen. The American lobster is a important economic resource in the region. Many species also inhabit the offshore waters. For example, the mackerel is important for both the fishing industry and for its role in the food chain. The sandy beaches are populated by Atlantic surf clam and by soft-shell clam, two species targeted by the local population for recreational fishing. The Atlantic surf clam is also fished commercially with hand tools and hydraulic dredges. Spartina marshes and numerous brooks are found in the area and they are used as feeding and resting areas for a variety of fish, such the rainbow smelt and American eel. Brooks are also used for the reproduction of some species, such as rainbow smelt.

The main pressures on fish habitat are related to port operations, navigation, dredging and increased coastal erosion (increased suspended sediment, increased noise, riprap, etc.).


Major species present:
American eel
American lobster
Atlantic halibut
Atlantic herring
Atlantic mackerel
Atlantic surf clam
Rainbow smelt
Soft-shell clam
Winter flounder
Yellowtail flounder

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Razorbill
Number Year Season
1,5002016Summer
2,5882016Spring
5,0002011Summer
5982007Summer
772 - 1,0742000Summer
2811985Summer
471976Summer
Great Cormorant
Number Year Season
3701994Fall
100 - 4001991Fall
2001991Summer
1001990Fall
120 - 2321990Summer
200 - 5001989Summer
2001988Fall
1001988Summer
100 - 5001987Summer
1001986Summer
2,0001985Fall
4001985Summer
5001983Fall
1501983Summer
1,5001981Fall
1611976Summer
2001970Summer
Northern Gannet
Number Year Season
5,0002012Fall
5,7401966Spring
Black-legged Kittiwake
Number Year Season
5,0001990Summer
10,0001987Summer
4,0061985Summer
2,2001976Summer
30,0001966Spring
Great Black-backed Gull
Number Year Season
5001985Summer
2,0001981Fall
8391976Summer
Manx Shearwater
Number Year Season
42010Fall
Horned Grebe
Number Year Season
22017Summer
12013Summer
1 - 32010Summer
62000Summer
11994Summer
11991Fall
31991Summer
41990Summer
Piping Plover
Number Year Season
52002Summer
22001Summer
51991Winter
0 - 51991Summer
21982Summer
Black Guillemot
Number Year Season
1,4062000Summer
3001985Summer
751976Summer