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Location Canada, Nova Scotia
Central coordinates 59o 55.17' West  43o 57.06' North
IBA criteria A4i
Area 48,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 15m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description Sable Island is located in the Atlantic Ocean about 150 km off the eastern shore of Nova Scotia. The 41 km sandbar island is located on the continental shelf, and is based on a (former) moraine. It is partly eroded each winter, with the sand being re-deposited each summer. There is a constant shifting of the partially vegetated sand dunes and offshore bars - the patterns depending on direction and force of major storms. But on average, there has been little change over the last 200 years. The climate is maritime: windy and mild, with snow seldom lying on the ground for more than a few days. The tide range is about 2 m. About 16,000 Grey Seals pup on the island each January, with about 500 Harbour Seals pupping each June.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Larus argentatus breeding  1970  2,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Not Recognised 
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus breeding  1998  600 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Tern Sterna hirundo breeding  1995  2,570 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Sable Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary 2,350 protected area overlaps with site 7,600  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Steppe & dry calcareous grassland  -
Wetlands (inland) Intertidal mud, sand or salt flats  -
Sea Open sea  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research minor
urban/industrial/transport major

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sable Island, Nova Scotia. Downloaded from on 26/10/2014

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