Location of Baccalieu Island in Newfoundland
|Area||5 km2 (1.9 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||137 m (449 ft)|
|Province||Newfoundland and Labrador|
Baccalieu Island is a 5 km² uninhabited island at the northern extremities of Conception Bay near the community of Red Head Cove, Canada. It is separated from the island of Newfoundland by Baccalieu Tickle, a small strait and an abundant fishing ground.
The name 'Baccalieu' is derived either from the Portuguese bacalhau, Spanish bacalao or the Basque baccalos, all meaning "codfish". Early Portuguese maps dating before Columbus' voyage indicate an island east of the Azores named Terra do Bacalhau which may have been the whole island of Newfoundland. Modern Baccalieu Island was known to Europeans by that name since at least 1556, when it was drawn on the Gastaldi map as "Bacalaos".
Historically, two lighthouses were operated on Baccalieu Island; today both are automated. The lighthouse on the northern end is not operational any more; its light was extinguished in the early 1990s. This lighthouse was replaced as an aid to navigation by an automated light on a skeletal tower. It was originally a brick tower and was later encased in iron. The old tower's data:
- Tower Height: 36 feet (11 m)
- Height of Focal Plane: 443 feet (135 m)
- Description of Tower: Red, conical cast iron tower.
- Date Established: 1859
- Date Present Tower Built: 1858
- Date Deactivated: 1990s
- Current Use: Unknown
- Open To Public? No.
Four generations of the Ryan family "kept the light" at Baccalieu from 1858 to 1950. Other keepers at Baccalieu included Felix Noonan, Eric Blundon, John Hyde, Linus Walsh, Joseph Hatch, Pat Rice, and principal lightkeeper Raymond Hyde.
Main article: Baccalieu Island Ecological Reserve
Baccalieu Island is the largest seabird island in Newfoundland and supports the greatest diversity of breeding seabirds in Eastern North America. The island supports the largest known colony of Leach's Storm-Petrel in the world, approximately 40% of the global population and about 70% of the western Atlantic population of this species. It is a nesting area for 11 breeding species:
- Atlantic Puffin (45,000 pairs - approximately 12% of the eastern North America population)
- Black-legged Kittiwake (13,000 - approximately 5 to 7% of the western Atlantic breeding population); and
- Northern Gannet (677 pairs - approximately 1.5% of the North American population).
- Northern Fulmar
- Black Guillemot
- Common Murre
- Thick-billed Murre
- Herring Gull
- Great Black-backed Gull
- The island also includes one of the largest winter populations of Eider in Newfoundland.
The island has a surface of 5 km², and the reserve spans 23 km², including all of the island and one kilometer of ocean around the coast.