Science Advisory Report 2019/016

Biophysical and Ecological Overview of the Eastern Shore Islands Area of Interest (AOI)


  • The Eastern Shore Islands Area of Interest (AOI) extends from Clam Bay near Jeddore Harbour to Barren Island near Liscomb Point, from the low tide line to the 100 m isobath, roughly 25 km from the mainland in the Scotian Shelf bioregion. The AOI includes the nearshore waters surrounding hundreds of islands on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia, many of which are protected through provincial and private conservation efforts.
  • The density of islands in the Eastern Shore is three times greater than any other stretch along the Scotian Shelf (1.4 islands per kilometre of coastline). In association with this dense archipelago, a diversity of intertidal habitats are found within the AOI, including rocky and sandy beaches, cliffs, mud flats, and a mix of subtidal substrate types.
  • Sea surface and bottom temperatures of waters in the AOI are colder than the Scotian Shelf south of Halifax. These colder temperatures likely have direct impacts on species composition, including limiting invasive species typically introduced from warmer, southern latitudes. The relatively cold water in this region is expected to persist into the future, with projected temperature anomalies lower than other coastal areas in Nova Scotia.
  • Surficial geology of the AOI is bedrock overlaid by a mix of thin mud, sand, gravel, cobble, and boulder substrates, which is comparable to other coastal areas in the bioregion. However, the frequency of broad and deep glacially-excavated channels with expansive sand patches is uniquely high within the AOI.
  • The AOI is comprised of a heterogeneous mosaic of physical and biological benthic habitat patches, which vary approximately every 400 m across all depths. The scale of these transitions among habitat patches are unique relative to other surveyed areas, such as Sambro Ledges, which has a patch scale of approximately 5 km at depths greater than 30 m, and the Port Joli area, which is predominantly inshore sandy habitat surrounded by rocky patches.

This Science Advisory Report is from the Science Peer Review of March 20-21, 2018, on the Biophysical and Ecological Overview of the Eastern Shore Islands. Additional publications from this meeting will be posted on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science Advisory Schedule as they become available.

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