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Location Canada, Nunavut
Central coordinates 79o 59.98' West  74o 12.07' North
IBA criteria A4ii, A4iii
Area 872,765 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description The Lancaster Sound Polynya is located between the northwestern end of Baffin Island and the south coast of Devon Island. The shape and extensiveness of the polynya (an area of open water surrounded by ice, varies from year to year) and associated leads is influenced by the severity of the winter, water currents and winds. Landfast ice starts to develop in late September, with the sound becoming completely ice-covered by mid to late October. Leads and cracks begin to form between mid November and mid December, and remain until break-up. One of the most regularly occurring leads is one that develops along the south coast of Devon Island. In the 1970s break-up occurred any time between early May and August. Many large marine mammals, such as Bearded Seals, Belugas, Walruses and Polar Bears, feed in the waters here.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Little Auk Alle alle passage  1978  14,000,000 individuals  A4ii  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - seabirds passage  1978  5,000,000-9,999,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Sea Open sea  100%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
not utilised major

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lancaster Sound Polynya. Downloaded from on 01/10/2014

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