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Location Canada, Nunavut
Central coordinates 79o 58.19' West  55o 45.07' North
IBA criteria A4i
Area 20,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 100m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Bird Studies Canada/Nature Canada

Site description The South Flaherty Islands are a group of about 300 islands located at the southwestern end of the Belcher Islands. The Belcher Islands, including the main island of Flaherty, are in southeastern Hudson Bay, about 100 km west of the Quebec mainland. The islands, which vary from 1 to 500 ha in size, are either low glacier-scoured islands, rough islands with steep sides, or closer to Flaherty, composed of gravel and cobble. The shallow water surrounding the islands often has a strong current, but the tidal amplitude is small at a half to one metre. The site supports a number of polynyas that occur mostly near Agiaraalluk, the steepest and most prominent island in the area. The islands have sparse vegetation composed of moss, grass, sedge, low willow and Dwarf Birch. Occasionally, the larger islands will support other plant species, amongst sheltered rock crevices, on sandy beaches, or alongside freshwater ponds. The area provides good habitat for wintering Polar Bears, which are hunted by people from the community of Sanikiluaq. Beluga whales winter here, and wintering Walrus were seen here recently after a several decade absence.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Common Eider Somateria mollissima winter  1999  15,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Sea Open sea; Sea inlets  -

Land use

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

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: South Flaherty Islands. Downloaded from on 26/10/2014

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