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Reid Bay (NU072)

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Reid Bay (NU072)

Eastern Baffin Island, Nunavut

Latitude 66.895°N
Longitude 61.755°W
Altitude 0 - 800m
Area 106.83km²

Site Description

This arctic site is on the deeply indented eastern coast of Baffin Island on the Cumberland Peninsula. It is south of Reid Bay between the mouth of an officially unnamed fiord and bay, locally called Ugak (Cod) Fiord, and Akpa (Murre) Bay. Cape Dyer, 37 km to the south is the closest community. Few people visit the area; visits by local Inuit were more common, but still infrequent when there was a settlement at Padloping Island. The headland is composed of towering basaltic cliffs up to 800 m high, which are broken up into ridges and pointed pinnacles and separated by deep gullies. Steep talus slopes composed of huge boulders start at the base of the cliff in the northern section and stop at the ocean edge. Islets and protruding rocks can be found in the waters surrounding the cliff.

Birds

The headland south of Reid Bay is a globally significant site for breeding seabirds. It is unusual for the eastern arctic, in that it is one of only two locations where Thick-billed Murres, Northern Fulmars and Black-legged Kittiwakes breed together.

Immense numbers of Thick-billed Murre can be found on the pinnacles and spurs of the cliffs. In 1973, there were an estimated 200,000 Thick-Billed Murre pairs breeding on the cliffs. A more thorough survey that was conducted in 1985 calculated that 133,000 pairs bred on the cliffs. This is just over 1% of the world's population, and about 9% of the Canadian Thick-billed Murre population.

Large numbers of Northern Fulmars nest amongst the murres, particularly near the tops of the cliffs. Originally surveyed in 1973, the latest survey in 1985 showed that between 12,000 and 20,000 fulmars nest here. The numbers are imprecise because many dark phase fulmars were hard to see against the dark rock, and thus the surveyors were uncertain how many birds were missed. The estimates represent between 2 and 3.3% of the Canadian fulmar population.

Both the murres and fulmars are present at the colony from May until September, although the murres arrive a little later and leave a little earlier. Based on observation of birds flying in from the east, it is thought that many of the birds from this colony forage in low arctic waters in the centre of Davis Strait.

Between 1,200 and 1,300 Black-legged Kittiwakes nest on part of the cliff near the sea. Also, Glaucous Gulls (70 pairs), Iceland Gulls (27 pairs) and small numbers of Black Guillemot nest in the area.

The Cape Searle IBA, which contains as many as 100,000 pairs of Northern Fulmars, is located about 45 km north along the coast.

Conservation Issues

The remoteness of many arctic seabird colonies, such as this one, helps to protect them from human disturbance. Potential problems for this colony would come from an increase in shipping in Davis Strait or from oil and hydrocarbon exploration and drilling.

Few of these arctic colonies are protected, although there was recognition of this sites importance by the International Biological Programme in the early 1970s (Region 9, Site 7-9). The site has also been identified as a Key Migratory Bird Terrestrial Habitat site by the Canadian Wildlife Service.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Thick-billed Murre
Number Year Season
266,0001985Summer
400,0001973Summer
Northern Fulmar
Number Year Season
24,0001985Summer
20,0001973Summer