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The Backway (LB026)


The Backway (LB026)

Rigolet, Newfoundland and Labrador

Latitude 54.099°N
Longitude 58.053°W
Altitude 0m
Area 216.02km²

Site Description

The Backway is a 35 km long by 3 km wide narrow saltwater bay that forms the eastern end of Lake Melville, Labrador. Hamilton Inlet and Groswater Bay are located northeast of The Backway, which is fully sheltered from the ocean by Mount Gnat and the surrounding forested hills. The coastline within this secluded bay is relatively flat, with sand and clay mudflats extending well offshore. Numerous streams and small creeks flow into the Backway, but no major rivers are present. There are also a few small isolated islands.


The Backway supports very significant concentrations of Surf Scoters. Systematic surveys were not completed in this area until 1998. Aerial surveys yielded 26,070 and 34,740 scoters in August of 1998 and 1999 respectively. The vast majority of the birds were identified as Surf Scoters (mostly males), although a few Black Scoters and White- winged Scoters were also present. No Harlequin Ducks or eiders were observed. This concentration of scoters is the largest every recorded in eastern Canada, and represents over 3.3% of worlds estimated Surf Scoter population. It is thought that the large flocks of scoters seen at The Backway are an aggregation of smaller pre-moult flocks that occur around Groswater Bay in June and early July.

Conservation Issues

Although The Backway is not on the direct shipping route to Goose Bay, the threat of oil pollution from shipping traffic is still present; tides and westerly winds could move the oil into The Backway. It is not known whether significant waterfowl hunting occurs at this site.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Surf Scoter
Number Year Season
10,000 - 26,0701998Summer
Number Year Season