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Hantzsch Island (NU025)


Hantzsch Island (NU025)

Resolution Island Group, Nunavut

Latitude 61.924°N
Longitude 65.007°W
Altitude 0 - 150m
Area 36.22km²

Site Description

Hantzsch Island is located off the southernmost tip of Baffin Island, 1 km from the northeastern coast of Edgell Island. It is a small dome-shaped island characterized by high steep coastal cliffs and grassy slopes. Although the elevation does not exceed 150 m, the islands summit is conspicuous from a far distance.

Just north of Hantzsch Island, in Frobisher Bay, there is a large area of open water surrounded by sea ice, which is called a polynya. This is a natural attraction for Walrus, Beluga Whales, Bearded, Ringed and Harp Seal. Polar Bears are also found in this area, and use the nearby tip of Meta Incognita Peninsula (part of Baffin Island) as a maternity denning site.


The rugged shoreline cliffs of Hantszch Island support many seabird populations during the breeding season from May to late August or early September. At least 50,000 pairs of Thick-billed Murres have been reported nesting here, which accounts for about 3% of their national population. Over 2% of the national Black-legged Kittiwake population has also been observed at this site (5,000 pairs). Other species that nest here include small numbers of Glaucous Gulls and possibly Northern Fulmars.

Conservation Issues

Nesting seabirds are vulnerable to disturbance and pollution of offshore waters, which are used for foraging. Nearby Frobisher Bay and Hudson Strait are frequently used for shipping and air transport, while hydrocarbon exploration is occurring in Davis Strait. All of these activities create a potential for pollution and disturbance in the surrounding waters. Thick-billed Murres are particularly at risk from these threats, due to their extensive flightless migration to the wintering territory, at the end of the breeding season.

The Canadian Wildlife Service has identified this site as a Key Habitat Site for migrating birds. It is also classified as a significant site under the International Biological Programme (IBP). Although there are no special regulatory controls associated with the IBP designation, it serves to further emphasize the ecological importance of Hantzsch Island.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Thick-billed Murre
Number Year Season