The St. Mary’s River is Nova Scotia’s precious natural resource. From its quiet headwaters formed by small brooks and marshes, the river gathers into its East Branch from Pictou County, its North branch from Antigonish County and its West branch from Halifax County. They will converge and make up the main branch in Melrose. The main branch ends in Sherbrooke, where the water turns brackish and tidal, then flows another 16 kilometres until it spills into the Atlantic Ocean at Sonora.
At more than 250 km from headwaters to the ocean, the St. Mary’s is the province's longest river system.
These waters nurture a critical breeding environment for endangered Atlantic Salmon, Wood turtles and other hard-pressed species. Tireless conservation efforts from several volunteer organizations, like the St. Mary’s River Association (SMRA), ensure the wildlife of the St. Mary’s River basin will endure and flourish.
REPORT A WOOD TURTLE
You can help protect this threatened species by reporting a sighting. Do not touch; take a picture and record the GPS coordinates and weather.
WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE:
Orange-red colouring on neck and legs
16-21 cm shell length
Top shell is grey-brown with a carved wood appearance
The diverse ecology of the region supports many bird populations, a magnet for birding enthusiasts. It’s common to spot bald eagles perched stoically in trees on the riverbank, eyeing their next meal. Herons wade the shallows in search of small fish while osprey and other birds of prey soar silently overhead.
For visitors hoping to reconnect with the natural world, the St. Mary's watershed is ideal for day hiking, bird watching, nature photography and landscape painting.
THE LEGACY OF THE
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The St. Mary’s River, or Napu'saqnuk, was an essential waterway for the Mi’kmaq, who moved between seasonal hunting grounds and winter camping settlements. We acknowledge the Peace & Friendship Treaties signed in this Territory and recognize that we are all Treaty People.