The foremost goal of the parc national Tursujuq is to provide protection for a representative portion of the Hudson cuestas and plateau.
Along the coast that runs between Umiujaq and Little Whale River, you’ll find Quebec’s most extensive system of cuestas. The ridges are made of rock strata, all angled in the same direction, and highly erodible consolidated sediment covered in a more resistant layer. The cuestas were caused by erosion along fault lines, which gave rise to this asymmetrical relief. The Hudson cuestas create a very unusual landscape, not unlike the canyons found in the American Wild West. From their peaks, visitors can appreciate just how vast the Hudson plateau is – not to mention Hudson Bay itself. The cuestas are also home to several species of birds of prey.
The Goulet connects Tasiujaq Lake to Hudson Bay. Its current is very strong, creating polynya, gaps in the ice. Various marine mammals rely on these openings to breathe in winter. A wide variety of plants and wildlife live in the gulf, which is also an important habitat for some rare and endangered species. Anyone visiting the area must tread carefully and be sensitive to the environment.
About 287 million years ago, two meteors struck this area, deforming the earth’s crust and creating two round basins, one next to the other. With a surface area of 1,226 square kilometres, Wiyâshâkimî Lake is Quebec’s second-largest natural lake.
According to wildlife distribution maps, this area is home to 38 mammal species, 131 bird species and 42 fish species.
The beluga population that lives on the east side of Hudson Bay is currently being studied. The Nastapoka and Little Whale River are two major estuaries where the belugas can be observed from mid-July to late August, when summer ends. Fewer belugas are making their way to the Tasiujaq Lake, but those that do gather in Kilualuk Bay.
The maritime portion of the study includes three seal species, one of which is found more than 150 kilometres inland! They are the unique Lacs des Loups Marins freshwater seals, whose numbers are estimated to be less than 500.
Land mammals – such as caribou, moose, black bears and several other smaller creatures – can be seen in the park. The land is also home to wolverines, an endangered species in Quebec, and Canadian lynx.
The park is also within the migration corridor of the Canada and snow goose, and many even stop here for a rest. Certain at-risk species, like the harlequin duck, Barrow’s goldeneye, golden eagle and bald eagle are found here.
Both saltwater and freshwater fish live in Tasiujaq Lake. The Arctic and brook char compete for habitat here, though the brook char dominates most of the lake’s tributaries. Interestingly Nastapoka River is home to a population of Atlantic salmon; it’s the only one of its kind on the east coast of Hudson Bay.
American toads and wood frogs have been spotted in the Tasiujaq Lake area. Four other amphibians live nearby, including the blue-spotted salamander, and one reptile, the garter snake.
People began exploring the plants in this area toward the end of the 19th century. The Centre d’études Nordiques, which is particularly interested in the Tasiujaq and Wiyâshâkimî Lakes, has collected thousands of samples here. Their annotated listing includes more than 500 species. Boreal species make up two thirds of the plants found in this region. Due to their climactic and topographic characteristics, as well as the abundant Arctic taxons found here, the cuestas and some of the islands in Tasiujaq and Wiyâshâkimî Lakes are considered Arctic enclaves.