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Identification of Ecological Significance, Knowledge Gaps and Stressors for the North Water and Adjacent Areas.

New publication by Fisheries and Oceans Canada


The North Water (Sarvarjuaq/Pikialasorsuaq) is a biologically, socioeconomically, and culturally important region located in northern Baffin Bay between Canada and Greenland. This region’s biological importance can be attributed to the unique local geography, sea ice cover, oceanographic circulation patterns, and stratification that encourages early (i.e., April-May) and high productivity. The early and predictable phytoplankton blooms in this region support a high diversity of lower trophic feeders, fishes, and Arctic marine mammals (e.g., Bowhead Whales). Known for being one of the largest polynyas in the Arctic, the mechanism and unique formation is primarily driven by strong winds forcing sea ice downwind of a northern ice bridge (or bridges) in Nares Strait and Kane Basin, restricting and reducing ice cover in northern Smith Sound. Marine mammals (Narwhal, Beluga, Bowhead, Polar Bear, Walrus, and Ringed and Bearded seals) utilize this region seasonally, and some species will remain in the open waters of the North Water throughout the winter months. Millions of seabirds (Dovekies, Thick-billed Murres, Kittiwakes, Common Eiders and others) arrive to the North Water in the spring, and use the coastal-fiord regions surrounding the North Water for breeding, foraging and nesting.