Consisting of four islands in Witless Bay, the reserve is North America’s largest Atlantic puffin colony with over 260,000 pairs nesting here during the late spring and summer. In fact, every summer, more than a million pairs of birds gather here, including puffins, kittiwakes, storm petrels and murres. Tour boats sail to the islands, hugging the shore beneath sheer cliffs and giving you a shrieking earful as well as an eyeful.

The Witless Bay Ecological Reserve
The Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

Whales can often be seen feeding in the reserve too, they spend their winters elsewhere but gather here by the thousands when summer comes around, frequently putting on a show that delights both tour boat passengers and hikers out on the cliffs of the nearby East Coast Trail.

The reserve spans roughly 12 km from its northern edge above Gull Island to its southern edge below Great Island. Sailing between them, you’ll find that each of the islands has its own distinct ecological makeup, geological features, and character.

The Witless Bay Ecological Reserve Map
The Witless Bay Ecological Reserve Map

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