Baffin Island
Overview
 
Baffin Island in the Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 territory of Nunavut
Nunavut
Nunavut is the largest and newest federal territory of Canada; it was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries had been established in 1993...

 is the largest island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago
Canadian Arctic Archipelago
The Canadian Arctic Archipelago, also known as the Arctic Archipelago, is a Canadian archipelago north of the Canadian mainland in the Arctic...

, the largest island in Canada and the fifth largest island in the world. Its area is 507451 km² (195,927.9 sq mi) and its population is about 11,000 (2007 estimate). Named after English
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 explorer William Baffin
William Baffin
William Baffin was an English navigator and explorer. Nothing is known of his early life, but it is conjectured that he was born in London of humble origin, and gradually raised himself by his diligence and perseverance...

, it is likely that the island was known to Pre-Columbian
Pre-Columbian
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

 Norse
Norsemen
Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

 of Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 and Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 and may be the location of Helluland
Helluland
Helluland is the name given to one of the three lands discovered by Leif Eriksson around 1000 AD on the North Atlantic coast of North America....

, spoken of in the Icelandic sagas
Sagàs
Sagàs is a small town and municipality located in Catalonia, in the comarca of Berguedà. It is located in the geographical area of the pre-Pyrenees.-Population:...

 (the Saga of Erik the Red (Eiríks saga rauða) and the Grœnlendinga saga
Grœnlendinga saga
The Grœnlendinga saga is an Icelandic saga. Along with Eiríks saga rauða it is one of the two main literary sources of information for the Norse exploration of North America. It relates the colonization of Greenland by Erik the Red and his followers...

).
Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, is located on the southeastern coast.
Encyclopedia
Baffin Island in the Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 territory of Nunavut
Nunavut
Nunavut is the largest and newest federal territory of Canada; it was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries had been established in 1993...

 is the largest island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago
Canadian Arctic Archipelago
The Canadian Arctic Archipelago, also known as the Arctic Archipelago, is a Canadian archipelago north of the Canadian mainland in the Arctic...

, the largest island in Canada and the fifth largest island in the world. Its area is 507451 km² (195,927.9 sq mi) and its population is about 11,000 (2007 estimate). Named after English
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 explorer William Baffin
William Baffin
William Baffin was an English navigator and explorer. Nothing is known of his early life, but it is conjectured that he was born in London of humble origin, and gradually raised himself by his diligence and perseverance...

, it is likely that the island was known to Pre-Columbian
Pre-Columbian
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

 Norse
Norsemen
Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

 of Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 and Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 and may be the location of Helluland
Helluland
Helluland is the name given to one of the three lands discovered by Leif Eriksson around 1000 AD on the North Atlantic coast of North America....

, spoken of in the Icelandic sagas
Sagàs
Sagàs is a small town and municipality located in Catalonia, in the comarca of Berguedà. It is located in the geographical area of the pre-Pyrenees.-Population:...

 (the Saga of Erik the Red (Eiríks saga rauða) and the Grœnlendinga saga
Grœnlendinga saga
The Grœnlendinga saga is an Icelandic saga. Along with Eiríks saga rauða it is one of the two main literary sources of information for the Norse exploration of North America. It relates the colonization of Greenland by Erik the Red and his followers...

).

Geography

Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, is located on the southeastern coast. Until 1987, the town shared the name Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay is a relatively large inlet of the Labrador Sea in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is located in the southeastern corner of Baffin Island...

 with the bay on which it is located.

To the south lies Hudson Strait
Hudson Strait
Hudson Strait links the Atlantic Ocean to Hudson Bay in Canada. It lies between Baffin Island and the northern coast of Quebec, its eastern entrance marked by Cape Chidley and Resolution Island. It is long...

, separating Baffin Island from mainland Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

. South of the western end of the island is the Fury and Hecla Strait
Fury and Hecla Strait
Fury and Hecla Strait is a narrow channel of water located in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. Situated between Baffin Island and Melville Peninsula it connects Foxe Basin, to the east, with the Gulf of Boothia, to the west....

 which separates the island from the Melville Peninsula
Melville Peninsula
Melville Peninsula is a large peninsula in the Canadian Arctic. Since 1999, it has been part of Nunavut. Before that, it was part of the District of Franklin. It's separated from Southampton Island by Frozen Strait. The narrow isthmus connecting the peninsula to the mainland is styled the “Rae...

 on the mainland. To the east are Davis Strait
Davis Strait
Davis Strait is a northern arm of the Labrador Sea. It lies between mid-western Greenland and Nunavut, Canada's Baffin Island. The strait was named for the English explorer John Davis , who explored the area while seeking a Northwest Passage....

 and Baffin Bay
Baffin Bay
Baffin Bay , located between Baffin Island and the southwest coast of Greenland, is a marginal sea of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is connected to the Atlantic via Davis Strait and the Labrador Sea...

, with Greenland beyond. The Foxe Basin
Foxe Basin
Not to be confused with Fox Bay, Falkland IslandsFoxe Basin is a shallow oceanic basin north of Hudson Bay, in Nunavut, Canada, located between Baffin Island and the Melville Peninsula...

, the Gulf of Boothia
Gulf of Boothia
The Gulf of Boothia is a body of water in Nunavut, Canada, the western side being within Kitikmeot Region while the eastern side is in Qikiqtaaluk Region. It is situated between Baffin Island and the Boothia Peninsula...

 and Lancaster Sound
Lancaster Sound
Lancaster Sound is a body of water in Qikiqtaaluk, Nunavut, Canada. It is located between Devon Island and Baffin Island, forming the eastern portion of the Northwest Passage. East of the sound lies Baffin Bay; to the west lies Viscount Melville Sound...

 separate Baffin Island from the rest of the archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 to the west and north.

The Baffin Mountains
Baffin Mountains
The Baffin Mountains are a mountain range running along the northeastern coast of Baffin Island and Bylot Island, Nunavut are part of the Arctic Cordillera. The ice-capped mountains are some of the highest peaks of eastern North America, reaching a height of above sea level...

 run along the northeastern shore of the island and are a part of the Arctic Cordillera
Arctic Cordillera
The Arctic Cordillera is a vast, deeply dissected chain of mountain ranges extending along the northeastern flank of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago from Ellesmere Island to the northeasternmost part of the Labrador Peninsula in northern Labrador and northern Quebec, Canada...

. Mount Odin
Mount Odin
Mount Odin is a mountain in Qikiqtaaluk, Nunavut, Canada. It is located in Auyuittuq National Park along the Akshayuk Pass, north of Pangnirtung and south of Mount Asgard. Mount Odin is the highest mountain on Baffin Island....

 is the highest peak, with an elevation of at least 2143 m (7,030.8 ft) (some sources say 2147 m (7,044 ft)). Another peak of note is Mount Asgard
Mount Asgard
Mount Asgard is a twin peaked mountain with two flat-topped cylindrical rock towers, separated by a saddle. It is located in Auyuittuq National Park, on the Cumberland Peninsula of Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada. The peak is named after Asgard, the realm of the gods in Norse mythology...

, located in Auyuittuq National Park
Auyuittuq National Park
Auyuittuq National Park is a national park located on Baffin Island's Cumberland Peninsula, Qikiqtaaluk Region in Nunavut, the largest political subdivision of Canada. It features the many terrains of Arctic wilderness, such as fjords, glaciers, and ice fields...

, with an elevation of 2011 m (6,597.8 ft). Mount Thor
Mount Thor
Mount Thor, officially gazetted as Thor Peak, is a mountain with an elevation of 1,675 m located in Auyuittuq National Park, on Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada. The mountain is located northeast of Pangnirtung and features the Earth's greatest purely vertical drop at , with an average angle of 105...

, with an elevation of 1675 m (5,495.4 ft), is said to have the greatest purely vertical drop of any mountain on Earth, at 1250 m (4,101 ft).

The two largest lakes on the island lie in the south-central part of the island: Nettilling Lake
Nettilling Lake
Nettilling Lake [nech'iling] is a cold freshwater lake located toward the south end of Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada. It is also the world's largest lake on an island, with an area of 5,542 km2 and a maximum length of 123 km. The lake is in the Great Plain of the Koukdjuak about...

 (5066 km² (1,956 sq mi)) and Amadjuak Lake
Amadjuak Lake
Amadjuak Lake is a lake in Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada. Along with Nettilling Lake, it is located in south-central Baffin Island's Great Plain of the Koukdjuak. It is south of Burwash Bay. The closest community is Iqaluit...

 further south.

The Barnes Ice Cap
Barnes Ice Cap
The Barnes Ice Cap is an ice cap located in central Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada. It covers close to and has been thinning due to regional warming. Between 2004 and 2006, the ice cap was thinning at a rate of per year....

, in the middle of the island, has been retreating since at least the early 1960s, when the Geographical Branch of the then-Department of Mines and Technical Surveys
Natural Resources Canada
The Department of Natural Resources , operating under the FIP applied title Natural Resources Canada , is the ministry of the government of Canada responsible for natural resources, energy, minerals and metals, forests, earth sciences, mapping and remote sensing...

 sent a three-man survey team to the area to measure isostatic rebound and cross-valley features of the Isortoq River.

Baffin Island is traversed by the northwesterly line of equal latitude and longitude.

History

In September 2008, Nunatsiaq News
Nunatsiaq News
Nunatsiaq News is a Canadian weekly newspaper based in Iqaluit, Nunavut serving Nunavut and the Nunavik region of northern Quebec and has been in operation since 1973. The paper, published every Friday by Nortext Publishing Corporation of Iqaluit and Ottawa, bears a retail price of $1.00...

reported archaeological
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 remains of yarn, rats, tally sticks, a carved wooden Dorset culture
Dorset culture
The Dorset culture was a Paleo-Eskimo culture that preceded the Inuit culture in Arctic North America. It has been defined as having four phases, with distinct technology related to the people's hunting and tool making...

 face mask
Masks among Eskimo peoples
Masks among Eskimo peoples served a variety of functions. Masks were made out of driftwood, animal skins, bones and feathers. They were often painted using bright colors...

 depicting Caucasian
Caucasian race
The term Caucasian race has been used to denote the general physical type of some or all of the populations of Europe, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Western Asia , Central Asia and South Asia...

 features, and possible architectural remains, which place Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an traders and possibly settlers on Baffin Island not later than AD 1000. What the source of this Old World
Old World
The Old World consists of those parts of the world known to classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World" ....

 contact may have been is unclear; the report states: "Dating of some yarn and other artifacts, presumed to be left by Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

s on Baffin Island, have produced an age that predates the Vikings by several hundred years. So [...] you have to consider the possibility that as remote as it may seem, these finds may represent evidence of contact with Europeans prior to the Vikings' arrival in Greenland".

Communities by population

IqaluitIqaluit, 63°44′55"N 068°31′11"W 6,184
PangnirtungPangnirtung, 66°08′52"N 065°41′58"W 1,325
Pond InletPond Inlet, 72°41′57"N 077°57′33"W 1,315
Clyde River
Clyde River, Nunavut
Clyde River is an Inuit hamlet located on the shore of Baffin Island's Patricia Bay, off Clyde Inlet, an arm of Davis Strait in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, of Nunavut Canada. It lies in the Baffin Mountains which in turn form part of the Arctic Cordillera mountain range...

Clyde River, 70°28′26"N 068°35′10"W
820
Arctic Bay
Arctic Bay, Nunavut
Arctic Bay is an Inuit hamlet located in the northern part of the Borden Peninsula on Baffin Island in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. Arctic Bay is located in the Eastern Time Zone although it is quite close to the time zone boundary. The predominant languages are Inuktitut and English...

Arctic Bay, 73°02′11"N 085°09′09"W
690
KimmirutKimmirut, 62°50′48"N 069°52′07"W 411
NanisivikNanisivik, 73°02′05"N 084°32′13"W 0 (From 77 in 2001 - mine closure)


Additionally, the communities of Qikiqtarjuaq (pop. 473) Qikiqtarjuaq, 67°33′29"N 064°01′29"W and Cape Dorset
Cape Dorset, Nunavut
Cape Dorset is an Inuit hamlet located on Dorset Island near Foxe Peninsula at the southern tip of Baffin Island in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada...

 (pop. 1236) Cape Dorset, 64°13′54"N 076°32′25"W are located on offshore islands.

There are discussions to start the Baffinland Iron Mine
Baffinland Iron Mine
The Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation, is working to develop a large open pit iron mine in the Mary River area of Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada.-The ore body:Iron ore was first found in the Mary River area in 1962....

, an iron ore mine with a 21 year life, at Mary River
Mary River (Nunavut)
Mary River is located on Baffin Island about northwest of Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, and about southwest of Pond Inlet. It is home to iron ore deposits discovered in 1962 by Murray Edmund Watts and Ron Sheardown....

, and to build a railway and a port to transport the ore. This may create a temporary mining community there.

Wildlife

Baffin Island has both year-round and summer visitor wildlife. On land, examples of year-round wildlife are Barren-ground Caribou
Barren-ground Caribou
Barren-ground Caribou is a subspecies of the caribou that is found mainly in the Canadian territories Nunavut and the Northwest Territories and western Greenland. It sometimes includes the similar porcupine caribou, in which case the barren-ground caribou also is found in Alaska...

, polar bear
Polar Bear
The polar bear is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world's largest land carnivore and also the largest bear, together with the omnivorous Kodiak Bear, which is approximately the same size...

, Arctic Fox
Arctic fox
The arctic fox , also known as the white fox, polar fox or snow fox, is a small fox native to Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and is common throughout the Arctic tundra biome. The Greek word alopex, means a fox and Vulpes is the Latin version...

, Arctic Hare
Arctic Hare
The arctic hare , or polar rabbit is a species of hare which is adapted largely to polar and mountainous habitats. The arctic hare survives with a thick coat of fur and usually digs holes under the ground or snow to keep warm and sleep...

, lemming
Lemming
Lemmings are small rodents, usually found in or near the Arctic, in tundra biomes. They are subniveal animals, and together with voles and muskrats, they make up the subfamily Arvicolinae , which forms part of the largest mammal radiation by far, the superfamily Muroidea, which also includes rats,...

 and Arctic Wolf
Arctic Wolf
The Arctic Wolf , also called Polar Wolf or White Wolf, is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf, a mammal of the family Canidae. Arctic Wolves inhabit the Canadian Arctic, Alaska and the northern parts of Greenland....

.

Barren-ground Caribou
Reindeer
The reindeer , also known as the caribou in North America, is a deer from the Arctic and Subarctic, including both resident and migratory populations. While overall widespread and numerous, some of its subspecies are rare and one has already gone extinct.Reindeer vary considerably in color and size...

 herds that migrate in a limited range from northern Baffin island down to the southern part in winter, even to the Frobisher Bay peninsula, next to Resolution Island
Resolution Island (Nunavut)
Resolution Island is one of the many uninhabited Canadian Arctic islands in Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut. It is a Baffin Island offshore island located in Hudson Strait. It has an area of...

 and migrate back north in the summer.

Polar bears can be found all along the coast of Baffin Island, but are most prevalent where the sea ice
Sea ice
Sea ice is largely formed from seawater that freezes. Because the oceans consist of saltwater, this occurs below the freezing point of pure water, at about -1.8 °C ....

 is located as pack ice
Drift ice
Drift ice is ice that floats on the surface of the water in cold regions, as opposed to fast ice, which is attached to a shore. Usually drift ice is carried along by winds and sea currents, hence its name, "drift ice"....

, where their major food sources — Ringed Seal
Ringed Seal
The ringed seal , also known as the jar seal and as netsik or nattiq by the Inuit, is an earless seal inhabiting the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions...

s (Jar Seal) and Bearded Seal
Bearded Seal
The bearded seal , also called the square flipper seal, is a medium-sized pinniped that is found in and near to the Arctic Ocean. It gets its generic name from two Greek words that refer to its heavy jaw...

s — live. Polar bears mate approximately every year with from one to three cubs being born around March. Female polar bears may travel 10 kilometre inland to find a large snow bank where they dig a den
Maternity den
A maternity den, in the animal kingdom, is a lair where the mother gives birth and nurtures the young, when they are in a vulnerable life stage. While such dens are typically subterranean, they may also be snow caves or simply beneath rock ledges. Characteristically there is an entrance, and...

 in which to spend the winter and later for giving birth. The polar bear population here is one of 19 genetically distinct demes
Deme (biology)
In biology, a deme is a term for a local population of organisms of one species that actively interbreed with one another and share a distinct gene pool...

 of the circumpolar region.

Arctic Fox can usually be found where polar bears venture on the fast ice
Fast ice
Fast ice is sea ice that has frozen along coasts along the shoals, or to the sea floor over shallow parts of the continental shelf, and extends out from land into sea. In Antarctica, fast ice may also extend between grounded icebergs...

 close to land in their search for seals. Arctic Foxes are scavengers, and often follow polar bears to get their leavings. On Baffin Island, Arctic Foxes are sometimes trapped by Inuit
Inuit
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada , Denmark , Russia and the United States . Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language...

, but there is not a robust fur industry
Fur trade
The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur. Since the establishment of world market for in the early modern period furs of boreal, polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued...

.

Arctic Hare are found throughout Baffin island. Their fur is pure white in winter and molts to a scruffy dark grey in summer. Arctic Hares and lemmings are a primary food source for Arctic Foxes and Arctic Wolves.

Lemmings are also found throughout the island, and are a major food source for Arctic foxes, Arctic wolves and the Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl
The Snowy Owl is a large owl of the typical owl family Strigidae. The Snowy Owl was first classified in 1758 by Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish naturalist who developed binomial nomenclature to classify and organize plants and animals. The bird is also known in North America as the Arctic Owl, Great...

. In the winter, lemmings dig complicated tunnel systems through the snow drifts in order to get to their food supply of dry grasses and lichen
Lichen
Lichens are composite organisms consisting of a symbiotic organism composed of a fungus with a photosynthetic partner , usually either a green alga or cyanobacterium...

s.

The Arctic Wolf, and the Baffin Island Wolf
Baffin Island Wolf
The Baffin Island Wolf , also known as the Baffin Island Tundra Wolf, is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf, Canis lupus, which resides exclusively on Baffin Island and several nearby islands...

, a Gray Wolf
Gray Wolf
The gray wolf , also known as the wolf, is the largest extant wild member of the Canidae family...

 subspecies, is also a year-round resident of Baffin Island. Unlike the Gray Wolf in southern climes, Arctic Wolves often do not hunt in packs, although a male-female pair may hunt together.

In the water (or under the ice) the year-round visitors are mainly the Ringed Seal.

The Ringed Seal lives off-shore within 8 km (5 mi) of land. During the winter, it makes a number of breathing holes through ice up to 8 ft (2.4 m) thick by visiting each one often, and keeping the hole open and free from ice. In March, when a female is ready to whelp, she will enlarge one of the breathing holes that has snow over it, and create a small "igloo
Igloo
An igloo or snowhouse is a type of shelter built of snow, originally built by the Inuit....

" where they whelp one or two pups. Within three weeks the pups are in the water and swimming. During the summer, Ringed Seals keep to a narrow territory approximately 3 km (2 mi) along the shoreline. If pack ice moves in, they may venture out 4 kilometre and follow the pack ice, dragging themselves up on an ice floe to take advantage of the sun.

Summer land visitors to Baffin Island all have wings and all come to nest. Baffin Island is one of the major nesting destinations from the Eastern and Mid-West flyways for many species of migrating birds
Bird migration
Bird migration is the regular seasonal journey undertaken by many species of birds. Bird movements include those made in response to changes in food availability, habitat or weather. Sometimes, journeys are not termed "true migration" because they are irregular or in only one direction...

. Waterfowl
Waterfowl
Waterfowl are certain wildfowl of the order Anseriformes, especially members of the family Anatidae, which includes ducks, geese, and swans....

 include Canada Goose
Canada Goose
The Canada Goose is a wild goose belonging to the genus Branta, which is native to arctic and temperate regions of North America, having a black head and neck, white patches on the face, and a brownish-gray body....

, Snow Goose
Snow Goose
The Snow Goose , also known as the Blue Goose, is a North American species of goose. Its name derives from the typically white plumage. The genus of this bird is disputed...

 and Brant Goose
Brent Goose
The Brant or Brent Goose, Branta bernicla, is a species of goose of the genus Branta. The Black Brant is an American subspecies. The specific descriptor bernicla is from the same source as "barnacle" in Barnacle Goose, which looks similar but is not a close relation.-Appearance:The Brant Goose is...

 (Brent Goose). Shore birds include the phalarope
Phalarope
A phalarope or wadepiper is any of three living species of slender-necked shorebirds in the genus Phalaropus of the bird family Scolopacidae. They are close relatives of the shanks and tattlers, the Actitis and Terek Sandpipers, and also of the turnstones and calidrids...

, various wader
Wader
Waders, called shorebirds in North America , are members of the order Charadriiformes, excluding the more marine web-footed seabird groups. The latter are the skuas , gulls , terns , skimmers , and auks...

s (commonly called sandpipers
Scolopacidae
The sandpipers are a large family, Scolopacidae, of waders or shorebirds. They include many species called sandpipers, as well as those called by names such as curlew and snipe. The majority of these species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil...

), murres
Guillemot
Guillemots is the common name for several species of seabird in the auk family . In British use, the term comprises two genera: Uria and Cepphus. In North America the Uria species are called "murres" and only the Cepphus species are called "guillemots"...

 including Brünnich's Guillemot
Brünnich's Guillemot
The Thick-billed Murre or Brünnich's Guillemot is a bird in the auk family . This bird is named after the Danish zoologist Morten Thrane Brünnich...

, and plover
Plover
Plovers are a widely distributed group of wading birds belonging to the subfamily Charadriinae. There are about 40 species in the subfamily, most of them called "plover" or "dotterel". The closely related lapwing subfamily, Vanellinae, comprises another 20-odd species.Plovers are found throughout...

s. Three gull
Gull
Gulls are birds in the family Laridae. They are most closely related to the terns and only distantly related to auks, skimmers, and more distantly to the waders...

 species also nest on Baffin Island: Glaucous Gull
Glaucous Gull
The Glaucous Gull is a large gull which breeds in the Arctic regions of the northern hemisphere and the Atlantic coasts of Europe. It is migratory, wintering from in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans as far south as the British Isles and northernmost states of the USA, also on the Great...

, Herring Gull
American Herring Gull
The American Herring Gull or Smithsonian Gull is a large gull which breeds in North America. It is often treated as a subspecies of the European Herring Gull but is now regarded as a separate species by some authorities.Adults are white with gray back and wings, black wingtips with white spots,...

 and Ivory Gull
Ivory Gull
The Ivory Gull Pagophila eburnea is a small gull, the only species in its genus. It breeds in the high arctic and has a circumpolar distribution through Greenland, northernmost North America, and Eurasia.-Taxonomy:...

.

Long-range travellers include the Arctic Tern
Arctic Tern
The Arctic Tern is a seabird of the tern family Sternidae. This bird has a circumpolar breeding distribution covering the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America...

, which migrates from Antarctica every spring. The variety of water birds
Anatidae
Anatidae is the biological family of birds that includes ducks, geese and swans. The family has a cosmopolitan distribution, occurring on all the world's continents except Antarctica and on most of the world's islands and island groups...

 that nest here include coot
Coot
Coots are medium-sized water birds that are members of the rail family Rallidae. They constitute the genus Fulica. Coots have predominantly black plumage, and, unlike many of the rails, they are usually easy to see, often swimming in open water...

s, loon
Loon
The loons or divers are a group of aquatic birds found in many parts of North America and northern Eurasia...

s, mallard
Mallard
The Mallard , or Wild Duck , is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and has been introduced to New Zealand and Australia....

s, and many other duck species.

Water species that visit Baffin Island in the summer are:

Harp Seal
Harp Seal
The harp seal or saddleback seal is a species of earless seal native to the northernmost Atlantic Ocean and adjacent parts of the Arctic Ocean. It now belongs to the monotypic genus Pagophilus. Its scientific name, Pagophilus groenlandicus, means "ice-lover from Greenland", and its synonym, Phoca...

s (or saddle-backed seals), which migrate from major breeding grounds off the coast of Labrador
Labrador
Labrador is the distinct, northerly region of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It comprises the mainland portion of the province, separated from the island of Newfoundland by the Strait of Belle Isle...

 and the southeast coast of Greenland to Baffin Island for the summer. Migrating at speeds of 15–20 km/h (9.3–12.4 ), they all come up to breathe at the same time, then dive and swim up to 1 – before surfacing again. They migrate in large pods consisting of a hundred or more seals, to within 1 – of the shoreline, which they then follow, feeding on crustacean
Crustacean
Crustaceans form a very large group of arthropods, usually treated as a subphylum, which includes such familiar animals as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill and barnacles. The 50,000 described species range in size from Stygotantulus stocki at , to the Japanese spider crab with a leg span...

s and fish.

Walrus
Walrus
The walrus is a large flippered marine mammal with a discontinuous circumpolar distribution in the Arctic Ocean and sub-Arctic seas of the Northern Hemisphere. The walrus is the only living species in the Odobenidae family and Odobenus genus. It is subdivided into three subspecies: the Atlantic...

, which actually do not migrate far off land in the winter. They merely follow the "fast ice", or ice that is solidly attached to land, and stay ahead of it as the ice hardens further and further out to sea. As winter progresses, they will always remain where there is open water free of ice. When the ice melts, they move in to land and can be found basking on rocks close to shore. One of the largest walrus herds can be found in the Foxe Basin on the western side of Baffin Island.

Beluga or white whale
Whale
Whale is the common name for various marine mammals of the order Cetacea. The term whale sometimes refers to all cetaceans, but more often it excludes dolphins and porpoises, which belong to suborder Odontoceti . This suborder also includes the sperm whale, killer whale, pilot whale, and beluga...

s migrate along the coast of Baffin Island as some head north to the feeding grounds in the Davis Strait between Greenland and Baffin Island, or into the Hudson Strait or any of the bays and estuaries in between. Usually travelling in pods of two or more, they can often be found very close to shore (100 m (328.1 ft), or less), where they come up to breathe every 30 seconds or so as they make their way along the coastline eating crustaceans.

Narwhal
Narwhal
The narwhal, Monodon monoceros, is a medium-sized toothed whale that lives year-round in the Arctic. One of two living species of whale in the Monodontidae family, along with the beluga whale, the narwhal males are distinguished by a characteristic long, straight, helical tusk extending from their...

s, which are known for their long, spiralling tusks (males only), can also be found along the coast of Baffin Island in the summer. Much like their beluga cousins they may be found in pairs or even in a large pod of ten or more males, females and newborns. They also can be often found close to the shoreline, gracefully pointing their tusks skyward as they come up for air. When they first arrive, the males arrive a few weeks ahead of the females and young.

The largest summer visitor to Baffin Island is the Bowhead Whale
Bowhead Whale
The bowhead whale is a baleen whale of the right whale family Balaenidae in suborder Mysticeti. A stocky dark-colored whale without a dorsal fin, it can grow to in length. This thick-bodied species can weigh to , second only to the blue whale, although the bowhead's maximum length is less than...

. Found throughout the Arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

 range, one group of Bowhead Whales are known to migrate to the Foxe Basin, a bay on the western side of Baffin Island. It is still not known whether they visit for the lush sea bounty or to calve
Birth
Birth is the act or process of bearing or bringing forth offspring. The offspring is brought forth from the mother. The time of human birth is defined as the time at which the fetus comes out of the mother's womb into the world...

 in the Foxe Basin.

Climate

Baffin Island lies in the path of a generally northerly airflow all year round, so like much of eastern Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, it has an extremely cold climate. This brings very long, cold winters and foggy, cloudy summers, which have helped to add to the remoteness of the island. Spring thaw arrives much later than normal for a position straddling the Arctic Circle
Arctic Circle
The Arctic Circle is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. For Epoch 2011, it is the parallel of latitude that runs north of the Equator....

; around early June at Iqaluit in the south-east to early/mid July on the north coast where glaciers run right down to sea level. Snow, even heavy snow, occurs at any time of the year, although is least likely in July and early August. Average annual temperatures at Iqaluit are around -8.5 C, compared with Reykjavík
Reykjavík
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city in Iceland.Its latitude at 64°08' N makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay...

,Reykjavík, 64°08′N 21°56′W around 5 °C (41 °F), which is at a similar latitude.

Sea ice surrounds the island for most of the year, and until recently only disappeared completely from the north coast for short unpredictable periods in August, if at all. At present, the sea is clear of ice off Iqaluit from mid to late June until the end of September.

Most of Baffin Island lies above the Arctic Circle
Arctic Circle
The Arctic Circle is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. For Epoch 2011, it is the parallel of latitude that runs north of the Equator....

 and all the communities from Pangnirtung northwards have Polar night
Polar night
The polar night occurs when the night lasts for more than 24 hours. This occurs only inside the polar circles. The opposite phenomenon, the polar day, or midnight sun, occurs when the sun stays above the horizon for more than 24 hours.-Description:...

 in winter and the midnight sun
Midnight sun
The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon occurring in summer months at latitudes north and nearby to the south of the Arctic Circle, and south and nearby to the north of the Antarctic Circle where the sun remains visible at the local midnight. Given fair weather, the sun is visible for a continuous...

 in summer. The eastern community of Clyde River has twilight
Twilight
Twilight is the time between dawn and sunrise or between sunset and dusk, during which sunlight scattering in the upper atmosphere illuminates the lower atmosphere, and the surface of the earth is neither completely lit nor completely dark. The sun itself is not directly visible because it is below...

 instead of night from April 26 until May 13, continuous sunlight for 2½ months from May 14 to July 28, then twilight instead of night from July 29 until August 16. This gives the community just over 3½ months without true night. In the winter the sun sets on November 22 and does not rise again until January 19 of the next year. However, there is twilight for at least 4 hours a day, unlike places such as Alert
Alert, Nunavut
Alert, in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada, is the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world, from the North Pole. It takes its name from HMS Alert, which wintered east of the present station, off what is now Cape Sheridan, in 1875–1876.Alert was reported to have five permanent...

.

Sports and activities

Baffin Island is becoming popular amongst the BASE jumping
BASE jumping
BASE jumping, also sometimes written as B.A.S.E jumping, is an activity that employs an initially packed parachute to jump from fixed objects...

 community as a hotspot due to a wide array of 900 metre tall cliffs scattered around the island, for example Mount Thor
Mount Thor
Mount Thor, officially gazetted as Thor Peak, is a mountain with an elevation of 1,675 m located in Auyuittuq National Park, on Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada. The mountain is located northeast of Pangnirtung and features the Earth's greatest purely vertical drop at , with an average angle of 105...

.

External links

  • Baffin Island at the Atlas of Canada
    Atlas of Canada
    The Atlas of Canada is an Internet atlas published by Natural Resources Canada that has information on every city, town, village, and hamlet in Canada...

  • Nunavut Tourism
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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