Bonaventure Island and the Gannet Colony

Bonadventure Island from Akademik Ioffe

Having weighed anchor at 1820 in the evening we turned our bow towards the west and steamed slowly overnight deeper into the Gulf of St Lawrence towards Bonaventure Island.

Early the following morning we arrived to a mist shrouded island.  The fog gradually lifted to reveal another gorgeous day.

Bonaventure Island stands out with its rich natural, historic, and geological heritage.

Sculpted by time and the sea, the island is situated at the tip of the Gaspe Peninsula. Its outstanding flora and fauna, including its famous colony of Northern Gannets make this a must-see for visitors.

We took the tenders ashore and landed on the beach to hike across the island. One the seaward side are the colonies of gannets that said to be home to over 51 thousand pairs of these splendid seabirds.

Watching northern gannets on Bonaventure Island

Specially constructed viewing platforms make it possible to get in very close to the birds who carry on as if humans were just part of their natural habitat. They are noisy and raucous as they feed their young with males flying in with bills filled with fish for the female who is keeping the chick warm and free from danger at this time of year.

Northern Gannet in one of the colonies on Bonaventure Island

Be warned! The smell of guano is very strong and is testament to the fact that there are a lot of birds here.

In addition to the Gannets a further 292 different species of birds have been recorded as visiting, migrating to, or living on Bonaventure island.

Key species include the:

  • Black-legged Kittiwake
  • Common Murre
  • Terns
  • Black Guillemots
  • Auks
  • Herring Gulls
  • Great Black-backed Gulls
  • Razorbills
  • Leach’s Storm-Petrels
  • Great Cormorants
  • Double-crested Cormorants
  • Atlantic Puffins
  • Boreal Chickadees
  • Blackpoll Warblers

Elsewhere on the island, old homes bear witnesses to the way the islanders lived a century ago before they were forcibly evicted by the government to make Bonaventure a national park and it is ironic that Canadians who condemn the British for enforcing the deportation of the Acadian peoples from their homelands so very long ago should now think it is perfectly acceptable to carry on the practice today in the name of wildlife preservation.

We are grateful to Destination CanadaAir Canada and ship operators One Ocean Expeditions for kindly hosting us on this trip