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Bassin aux Huîtres (QC015)


Bassin aux Huîtres (QC015)

Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Québec

Latitude 47.552°N
Longitude 61.518°W
Altitude 0 - 2m
Area 4.57km²

Site Description

Bassin aux Huîtres is situated on Île de la Grande-Entrée, in the Magdalen Islands archipelago, located in the Gulf St. Lawrence, Québec. It is beside the community of Grand Entrée. The majority of this site is a salt marsh pond bordered to the north mainly by clear cuts and to the south by a sand dune. The sandy beach at this site has a gradual slope and many pebbles and shells, giving it a mottled appearance. At Bassin aux Huîtres, the mean annual temperature is 4.4°C and the mean wind speed in the summer reaches 27 km/h.


During the 1996 International Piping Plover Census, 14 Piping Plovers were counted at Bassin aux Huîtres. This is 3.3% of the Atlantic Canada population. Numbers of Piping Plovers have been increasing at this site in the last five years. For example, between 1994 and 1998, an average of 14 Piping Plovers were observed per year in contrast to an average of 3 birds per year that were observed between 1987 and 1993. The 10 year average, from 1991 to 2000, was 5.1 pairs per year.

Bassin aux Huîtres is also used by several species of ducks and shorebirds. Horned Grebe are occasionally seen on the Bassin aux Huîtres.

Conservation Issues

The popularity of the beaches in the Magdalen Islands archipelago has increased in the last few years and so disturbance is a constant threat for breeding Piping Plovers. Since 1987, studies were conducted to develop protection measures for the Piping Plover. Education programs were developed to inform residents and tourists about the threats to the Piping Plover populations. Signs delimiting restricted zones during the breeding season have been erected. Since 1995, a municipal regulation has prohibited the use of off-road vehicles on the beaches of the Magdalen Islands archipelago, but some people in all-terrain vehicles have still been seen using the beaches.

The Gulf of St.Lawrence is susceptible to oil spills - for instance the Magdalen Islands experienced the shipwreck of the “Irving Whale” in 1970.

Fish Habitat

Located in a sandy area, the sector is mainly defined by the presence of salt marshes that are home to many marine fish and invertebrates. As the banks of lagoons generally have a gentle slope, the fine particles suspended in seawater, rich in nutrients, are deposited, promoting the development of these swamps gradually as the bottom of the lagoon rises. Around the islands, lagoons are used for aquaculture, shellfish harvesting and recreational activities. The slow current in eelgrass beds makes them a suitable environment for small fish such as stickleback and Atlantic silverside, the tautog tench, the mummichog and for benthic species, including the common crab. The crangon, also called sand shrimp, occupies an important place in the community. By their situation, their connections with the sea and the shallowness of the water collumn, lagoons are the favored growing habitats of American lobster and a spawning site used by many other marine species such as herring, flounder, Atlantic tomcod and rainbow smelt.

The main pressures on lagoons and fish habitats are related to human activities that have increased in recent decades: aquaculture, boating, recreational fishing and road infrastructure are some examples. The discharge of waste and silting are also issues of concern to the quality and sustainability of these habitats.

Major species present:
American eel
American lobster
Atlantic silverside
Atlantic tomcod
Common crab
Crangon (sand shrimp)
Rainbow smelt
Tautog tench
Winter flounder

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Black-headed Gull
Number Year Season
Piping Plover
Number Year Season
16 - 181998Summer
17 - 181997Summer
8 - 141996Summer
10 - 121995Summer
3 - 41990Summer
Roseate Tern
Number Year Season
2 - 31993Summer