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Wadham Islands and adjacent Marine Area (NF013)


Wadham Islands and adjacent Marine Area (NF013)

Musgrave Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador

Latitude 49.564°N
Longitude 53.838°W
Altitude 0 - 20m
Area 159.23km²

Site Description

The Wadham Islands are located on the east coast of Newfoundland, approximately 15 km east of Fogo Island and 40 km northwest of Cape Freels. They are comprised of seven main islands and many isolated rocks and shoals within a 120 km² area. The smaller islands are low and have rocky terrain, while the larger islands are vegetated with grasses and low shrubs. Peckford Island (2,500 ha) is the largest island in the group. The other islands include Green, White, Copper, Duck, James, and Outer Wadham Island.


The Wadham Islands contains a large colony of Atlantic Puffins. In total, 15,950 pairs (950 pairs on Green Island and 15,000 pairs on James Island) was recorded during surveys completed in 1984. This represents about 4.3% of the estimated eastern North American population. In addition to the nesting puffins, other seabirds nesting on the Wadham Islands include Leachs Storm-Petrel (10,000 pairs), Razorbills (30 pairs), Black Guillemots (>25 pairs) and Common / Arctic Terns (376 pairs). In all, it is estimated that the seabird colony supports over 26,380 pairs of seabirds.

In 1995, a Canadian Wildlife Service aerial survey recorded approximately 25,000 wintering Common Eiders (as much as 9% of the estimated northern borealis population) along the Wadham Islands to Cape Freels coastline. Within this region, the eiders often shift to different feeding areas, depending on ice conditions and the location of open water.

Conservation Issues

Peckford Island, the largest of the Wadham Islands, has had a notorious reputation of being a haven for poachers. It is believed that individuals have spent several days on the island, shooting large numbers of Common Eiders (in excess of the legal limit) and then later selling these birds on the mainland. In the late 1980s, the RCMP, in cooperation with the Canadian Wildlife Service, arrested a group of poachers that were in possession of well over the legal limit of Common Eiders. In recent years, it is believed that illegal hunting has decreased substantially.

During winters when sufficient ice forms, red fox can reach several of the Wadham Islands from the Newfoundland mainland, which is only 10 km away. This occurred in the winters of 1979 and 1984 and the nesting Atlantic Puffins and Leach's Storm Petrels on Green Island were heavily predated.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Atlantic Puffin
Number Year Season
Common Eider
Number Year Season
Number Year Season