Sea Wolf Island National Wildlife Area

Aerial view of the Sea Wolf Island NWA
Photo: © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Sea Wolf Island NWA - aerial view.

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Sea Wolf Island National Wildlife Area (NWA), locally referred to as Margaree Island, is located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, 4 kilometers (km) off the coast of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Margaree Island is a sandstone bedrock formation that is shaped like a whale's back with the highest point of its "hump" about 50 meters above the surrounding sea. The cliffs range from 5-10 meters at the southern end to nearly 30 meters high at points along the northwest side. As such, the island has no protective cove or points of easy access.

The water surrounding the island supports a wealth of migratory birds. Over forty species of birds and seventy plant species have been recorded on Sea Wolf Island NWA . Colonial birds breeding at the NWA include the Great Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull and Black Guillemot. The island also supports one pair of Bald Eagle.

The vegetation of this small exposed island consists of dense White Spruce stands on the lee side, Low Crowberry and Creeping Juniper at southwest portion. A shrub-grass cover with stunted White Spruce occupies the windward side and north tip.

The Great Cormorant colony, consisting of upwards of 100 pairs, is significant since there are few colonies of these species known to occur in the region. Northern Gannet and Common Loon are regularly observed around the island. In addition to the many bird species that make use of Margaree Island a variety of mammals such as Snowshoe Hare, Coyote and Red Fox occur on the island while sea-mammals such as Grey Seal, Mink Whale and Fin Whale frequent the surrounding waters.

More information on Sea Wolf Island NWA is provided in the summary table below.


NWA are protected and managed according to the Wildlife Area Regulations under the Canada Wildlife Act. The primary purpose of NWAs is the protection and conservation of wildlife and their habitat. For this purpose, and according to the legislation, Environment and Climate Change Canada can prohibit all activities in a NWA that could interfere with the conservation of wildlife. Consequently, most NWAs are not accessible to the public and all activities are prohibited. Nonetheless, Environment and Climate Change Canada has the ability to authorize some activities, whether through public notice or the issuance of permits, as long as these are consistent with the management plan goals for the NWA . For more information, consult the NWAs Management and Activities section.

Access to Sea Wolf Island NWA is not restricted and activities may be permitted in accordance with the conservation objectives of the NWA management plan. Public notices listing the authorized activities within the wildlife area are posted at the main access point below the Canadian Wildlife Service cabin. Public visitation is not encouraged, since colonial nesting birds are susceptible to human disturbance, although activities such as hiking, wildlife observation and hunting (subject to provincial and federal regulations) are presently permitted. However, these activities may be subject to change at any time if deemed necessary. To protect nesting birds, and for safety reasons, cliff climbing is not permitted.

More information on access and permitting for Sea Wolf Island NWA , can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.

Map of the Area

  • Sea Wolf Island NWA
Long description for the Map

Map of the area surrounding Margaree Island (Sea Wolf Island) off of the coast of Nova Scotia in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The boundaries of Sea Wolf Island NWA are indicated. The protected area covers the majority of Margaree Island (also known as Sea Wolf Island) and is north-west of Rear Dunvegan. The scale on the map is in kms. Permanent water, roads and highways are indicated on the map. A small inset national map situates the NWA in Canada.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Sea Wolf Island NWA can also be viewed using Google Maps. Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name.

Summary Table

This table provides summary information for the Sea Wolf Island NWA
Category Information
Protected Area designation NWA
Province/territory Nova Scotia
Latitude/longitude 46°22' North / 61°16' West
Size 76 ha
Reason for creation of protected area Protection of colonial nest bird colonies.
Date created (Gazetted) 1982 - Legal description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Ia - Strict Nature Reserve
Additional designations None
Keystone or flagship species Great Cormorant, Black Guillemot.
Main habitat type Shrub and Grass (78.3%), Forest (21.7%)
Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None recorded
Invasive species None recorded
Additional links

Birds: Great Blue Heron, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Bald Eagle, Northern Gannet, and Common Loon.

Mammals: Snowshoe Hare, Coyote, Red Fox, Grey Seal.

Main threats and challenges Ecotourism pressures.
Management Agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usage Hunting, hiking and wildlife observation permitted however subject to change at any time if deemed necessary.

Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page and any notice posted at the NWA site, the notice prevails as it is the legal instrument authorizing the activity.

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Atlantic Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship
17 Waterfowl Lane
Sackville, New Brunswick
E4L 4N1
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
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