This site encompasses the waters of the Mingan Islands archipelago. The limestone shoreline here has been eroded by wind and water into islands, arches, grottos and naturally sculpted limestone structures known as monoliths. The Mingan archipelago includes a string of 40 islands and more than 800 islets adjacent to the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence near Havre-Saint-Pierre in Quebec (some of which are separate IBAs). Many of these islands are within the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, which extends for 175 km and encompasses 105 km2.
The marine areas of the Mingan archipelago support significant concentrations of wintering Common Eiders. Visual aerial estimates of up to 60,000 Common Eiders were made here during the winter of 1997. This represents at least 8% of the North American Common Eider population.
Eiders breeding along the Labrador coast and Ungava Bay (ssp. borealis) migrate down to the North Shore of the Gulf of St Lawrence for the winter, and concentrate around the Mingan Islands, and other areas, between January and March. Although it is believed that the majority of these birds are from the borealis population, it is likely that some are from the Atlantic (spp. dresseri) population as well. Common Eiders that breed on the Mingan archipelago in summer are of this latter subspecies.
Oldsquaw are abundant in the winter, although precise numbers are not known. King Eider, Harlequin Duck and Barrow’s Goldeneye are also seen at this time of year.
Two hundred species of birds spend at least part of the year around these islands. Many seabirds breed on these islands; the most important bird colonies are separate IBAs.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Oil spills are prevalent in areas with heavy shipping traffic, and the St. Lawrence Seaway is one of the busiest waterways in North America. A large oil spill could have a devastating impact on waterbird populations in the Mingan Island Archipelago. Illegal poaching of eggs and adult birds was a problem in the past, but this activity has declined in recent years due to increased surveillance by park personnel. Disturbance by tour boats and other recreational boats remains a minor problem.