Bear Cove Coastline Reestablishment


  • Christopher Philip Ryan Memorial University


ENGI 8751, Case Study, Civil, Sandbar, Coastal, Berm, Bear Cove


Bear Cove is a small community on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland and Labrador in the Straits – St. Barbe region. Originally settled for proximity to fishing and hunting grounds, Bear Cove still maintains a small population of approximately 83 people [1]. The cove itself is a small, shallow inlet un-sheltered from the Strait of Belle Isle. By current standards, the cove is far from optimal for a typical Newfoundland outport; many residents of Bear Cove still own small fishing vessels of 26 feet or less. Very few stages exist in the area, and most vessels are stored on the beach out of reach of the land-wash or in a large field bordering the beach. During an undefined period prior to the year 2010, the coastline of Bear Cove transitioned from what was once a well-defined, exposed cove to a partially protected and stationary body of water. This transition was the result of a sandbar formation that stretched from the western point of the cove. This berm was naturally formed as a result of ocean transport and deposition, consisting of sand, cobbles, and boulders. While this berm initially provided protection for any coastal structures and vessels on the shore and was welcomed by the residents of the community, over time it began to develop a significant problem. Sediment was also being deposited behind the berm, creating a progressively shallow basin. This continued until the floor had been raised such that no water existed in the basin during low tide. In addition to the sediment deposit behind the berm, a form of aquatic algae - kelp was also being deposited. During the transition from high tide to low tide when water would vacate the area protected from the berm, this seaweed would settle and become exposed in the absence of water. Over time there became a significant deposit of seaweed which began to decompose and essentially create a ‘mat’ of seaweed along the floor of the cove. Ultimately, as a result of the berm formation, seaweed deposition and decomposition, an unbearable stench was generated, creating an unfavourable environment for the residents of the community. This paper serves as a discussion of the natural process’ leading to the development of a coastal berm, the progression which resulted in the development of an issue, and the actions taken to rectify the problem.


Reeve, D., Chadwick, A. J., & Fleming, C. A. (2004) Coastal Engineering: Process, theory, and design practice. New York: Sponn Press.

Public Works and Governemnt Services Canada, “Bear Cove Project Report”, June 2010






Coastal and Ocean Engineering (ENGI.8751)