- Name of Wetland: MARY'S POINT, New Brunswick
- Country: Canada
- Effective Date of Information: The information provided is taken from the List of Canadian Wetlands
Designated as of International Importance, May 1982 and updated by the Canadian Wildlife Service -
Atlantic Region in January 1993.
- Reference: Canada - 2.
- Name and Address of Compiler: Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Ottawa, Ontario,
Canada K1A 0H3.
- Date of Ramsar Designation: 24 May 1982.
- Geographical Coordinates: 45ø44'N., 64ø45'W.
- General Location: Situated at the head of the Bay of Fundy, 40 km south of the City of Moncton,
Westmorland County, New Brunswick.
- Area: 1 200 ha.
- Wetland Type (Ramsar Classification System):
Marine and Coastal Wetlands:
- Type 1 - Marine waters, permanent shallow waters less than six metres deep at low tide; includes sea
- Type 4 - Rocky marine shores; includes rocky offshore islands, sea cliffs;
- Type 7 - Intertidal mud, sand or salt flats;
- Type 8 - Intertidal marshes; includes salt marshes, salt meadows, saltings, raised salt marshes, tidal
brackish and freshwater marshes.
- Altitude: Range is from -2 m to 10 m above mean sea level.
- Overview (Principle Characteristics): The area encompasses a large tidal Spartina marsh, wide expanses of
intertidal mudflats consisting of fine marine silts, and a peninsula protruding into Shepody Bay that contains a 2
km sand-gravel beach, sand dunes and forested uplands with rocky cliffs and intertidal ledges.
- Physical Features (Geology, Geomorphology, Hydrology, Soils, Water, Climate): The peninsula was
formed from glacial outwash gravel overlying sandstone bedrock and consists of 2 forested islands joined by
salt marsh, rock cliffs and intertidal ledges, gravel beaches and a small ridge of sand dunes. The extensive
intertidal mudflats are over 1.5 km wide in places and occur to the north and south of the Point. They consist of
fine marine silts built up over time through deposition from muddy tidal waters in a macrotidal environment
with a range of up to 13 meters.
- Ecological Features (Habitats, Vegetation): The most prominent ecological feature is the extensive mudflats
that support marine algae and abundant invertebrates. The headland at Mary's Point is forested principally with
spruce (Picea) and fir (Abies) and scattered hardwoods. The extensive saltmarsh is dominated by saltmarsh
cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora, S. patens).
- Land Tenure:
- (a) Site: The Government of Canada owns 107 ha which includes the most critical sites used by the large
roosting flocks of shorebirds during high tide. Most of the 150 ha of saltmarsh remain under private
ownership as poor land titles have prevented purchase by the federal government. The remaining 940 ha
(approximately) of intertidal mudflats and are undeeded but under the jurisdiction of the Province of New
- (b) Surrounding Area: The site is bounded on three sides by waters of the Bay of Fundy. Uplands
immediately adjacent to the site on the western side are privately owned. The most critical adjacent parcels next
to the end of the beach are owned by avid conservationists.
- Conservation Measures Taken: The 107 ha owned by the federal government has been established as a
Unit of Shepody National Wildlife Area, and is scheduled under and controlled by the Wildlife Area
Regulations under the Canada Wildlife Act. On August 7, 1987 all of Mary's Point and the adjacent Shepody
Bay was declared a Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve under the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve
- Conservation Measures Proposed: Further securement of the saltmarshes and a better regulation and control
of human use of the beach at high tide.
- Current Land Use/Activities in:
- (a) Site: A 20 ha controlled waterfowl impoundment was constructed by Ducks Unlimited Canada in 1979 at
a site adjacent to the salt marsh. Future management of the impoundment may involve vegetation control via
tidal flooding and possible maintenance of slightly brackish conditions within the impoundment. The portion
of the site presently designated as a National Wildlife Area is posted with identification signs and there is an
observation deck overlooking the beach. A seasonal naturalist is provided via cooperation with the NB
Federation of Naturalists each summer in order to advise visitors on the biological values of the area and its
- (b) Surrounding Area: Private dwellings, woodlots and open fields.
- Threats to Integrity of:
- (a) Site: The possibility of a major alteration at the site due to the installation of a tidal barrage for power
generation remains a potential threat. The Mary's Point area is considered the least viable of the three prime
sites studied for tidal power installation in the Bay of Fundy during the early 1970s. Recreational use of all-
terrain vehicles along the beach occasionally causes disturbance to the roosting flocks and the number of
visitors needs to be regulated to keep disturbance to a minimum.
- (b) Surrounding Area: There is little change expected in the rural land use of the surrounding private
lands. Increasing use of the Mary's Point site by naturalists may lead to private, tourism associated,
developments but those are unlikely to impact the integrity of the Ramsar site.
- Hydrological/Physical Values: Mary's Point is a prominent headland and a very scenic coastal landscape.
- Social/Cultural Values: The site has a rich historic past as it was the site of a major stone quarrying
industry in the last century.
- Noteworthy Fauna: The intertidal mudflats support Corophium volutator, an amphipod which in North
America occurs only in the Bay of Fundy in recorded densities exceeding 60 000 per square metre which
are the highest densities in the world. It is the principal forage species of shorebirds. Over two million
Semi-palmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla, thousands of Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla, Short-billed
Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus, White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis, Semi-palmated Plover
Charadrius semipalmatus, Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola and Red Knot Calidris canutus feed
and roost at the site from late July to September. Small numbers of Black Duck Anas rubripes, Blue-winged
Teal Anas discors and Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris breed in a 20 ha freshwater impoundment adjacent
to the 150 ha salt marsh.
- Noteworthy Flora:
- Current Scientific Research and Facilities: Research activities have been aimed at understanding the
upper Bay of Fundy in general. In particular, shorebird research programmes conducted from 1974-1981
documented the feeding ecology of the birds and illustrated the importance of the Mary's Point site for
feeding and roosting. Presently (1993) there are no research activities at the site.
- Current Conservation Education: A small visitor centre and display area was constructed at the site in
1992 and seasonal naturalists provided via the NB Federation of Naturalists offer interpretive services
during July and August.
- Current Recreation and Tourism: Observation deck, seasonal interpretation centre, and trail on and
signage on the site. Approximately 5000 visitors use the site each summer.
- Management Authority: Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada.
- Jurisdiction: Federal- Department of the Environment and Prov of New Brunswick - DNRE.
- Selected Bibliography:
- Harrington, B.A. and R.I.G. Morrison. 1979. Semi-palmated sandpiper migration in North America. Studies
in Avian Biology 2: 83-100. Cooper Ornithological Society, Los Angeles, California.
- Majka, M. 1978. Wings over Fundy. Nature Canada 7(3).
- Morrison, R.I.G. 1974 to 1978. Annual reports of the Maritime Shorebird Survey, Canadian Wildlife
Service, Ottawa, Ontario.
- Morrison, R.I.G. 1976. Use of the Bay of Fundy by shorebirds. In Daborn, G.R. (editor). Proceedings,
Workshop of Fundy Tidal Power and the Environment. Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
- Hicklin, P.W. 1987. The migration of shorebirds in the Bay of Fundy. Wilson Bulletin, 99(4), pp 540- 570.
- Reasons for Ramsar Designation: The wetland supports the largest numbers of mixed species of shoreline
birds during fall migration in all of North America.