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Location Canada, Nova Scotia
Central coordinates 63o 39.74' West  45o 21.14' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 49,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 5m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description The eastern arm of the Bay of Fundy can be divided into two areas: the lower Minas Basin (IBA # NS020) and the upper Cobequid Bay. Cobequid Bay is a long (40 km) point-shaped bay that widens from 1.5 km at its eastern end, to 15 km at its juncture with Minas Basin. The coast and shoreline of the bay consists of beaches and mudflats with substrates ranging from fine silts to coarse sands, depending on the currents and distances to various sediment sources. At low tide, vast areas of mud and sand flats, and salt marshes are exposed - the result of the highest tides in the world (up to 16 m), which are found in the Bay of Fundy. The rich red-brown mud harbors millions of the amphipod, the Fundy mud shrimp (Corophium volutator), a vital food source for many shorebirds, particularly Semipalmated Sandpipers. The Cobequid Bay IBA includes the following areas: Economy, Highland Village, Little Dyke, Black Rock, Stirling Brook, Noel Shore, Noel Bay and Moose Cove.

Key Biodiversity Between 1 and 2 million shorebirds use the mud flats of the head of the Bay of Fundy (in this and other adjacent IBAs) in the fall for staging before the southern migration. The availability of such a prodigious food supply attracts 50 to 95% of the world total of Semipalmated Sandpipers, along with many other species of shorebirds, to the Bay of Fundy. The Cobequid Bay and other regions in the Bay of Fundy are the last and most important stopovers for the sandpipers, where they build up fat stores enabling them to make the long non-stop southward migration flight over the Atlantic Ocean to South America in three to four days. In July and early August, over 40,000 Semipalmated Sandpipers (representing approximately 1.2% of the global population) have been recorded in Cobequid Bay. In addition, over 10% of the North American population of Semipalmated Plovers were counted in Cobequid Bay. Black-bellied Plovers are the only shorebirds that are found at the Bay of Fundy in equally large concentrations during both spring and fall migration, when up to almost 1000 have been observed. These numbers are based on data from 1974 to 1983 using an improved estimation method that was reported in Canadian Field Naturalist in 1993.

The diversity of shorebirds found in the Bay of Fundy in the fall also includes: Red Knot, Sanderling, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher and White-rumped Sandpipers.

In addition to the shorebirds, substantial migrations of Canada Geese (2.6% of Newfoundland and Labrador population) can be seen in Cobequid Bay.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus passage  1994  5,497 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla passage  1994  43,536 individuals  A4i  Near Threatened 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  1994  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Anthony Provincial Park 7 protected area contained by site 8  
Debert Wildlife Management Area 269 protected area overlaps with site 93  
Economy River Marsh Eastern Habitat Joint Venture Lands 72 protected area contained by site 75  
Isgonish National Historic Site 0 protected area contained by site 0  
Little Dyke Protected Beach 3 protected area contained by site 3  
Lower Debert Protected Beach 11 protected area contained by site 12  
MacElmons Pond Operational Parks and Reserves 6 protected area contained by site 6  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Estuarine waters; Intertidal mud, sand or salt flats; Salt/brackish marshes  60%
Sea Sea inlets  30%
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land  10%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture minor
nature conservation and research minor
rangeland/pastureland minor
tourism/recreation minor

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Cobequid Bay. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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