Southwest Ellesmere Island, Nunavut
North Kent Island is located between Colin Archer Peninsula on northwest Devon Island and Simmons Peninsula on southwest Ellesmere Island. The island is flat-topped and ice-capped, rising to a maximum elevation of 600 metres above sea level. Steep cliffs surround most of the island, except at the north end where it is gently sloping. The site also includes Calf Island, which lies five kilometres off of the southern tip of North Kent Island. This small island is also surrounded by cliffs with a flat plateau above. A recurring polynya is found around these islands, formed by strong currents that flow from Norwegian Bay to Jones Sound. Many marine mammals, such as Walruses, Bearded and Ringed seals, and Narwhals, are attracted to the polynya.
Between May and September, large concentrations of Black Guillemots are found along approximately nine kilometres of cliffs along the east side and southeastern end of North Kent Island, as well as the entire periphery of Calf Island. Provisional estimates from the mid-1970s suggest that the total number of birds present is between 1,000 and 10,000 pairs. The minimum end of the range is of global significance, representing over 1% of the North American population. More recent surveys, however, recorded much lower numbers. In 1984 and 1988, only 1,085 and 654 birds were tallied, respectively. These more recent numbers were derived from survey methods that generally underestimate the total number of birds present. Therefore, it is not known whether these lower numbers are due to a real decline in the colony size or differences in survey methods. Considering the earlier estimates and the underestimation of the new surveys, it is very likely that at least 1% of the North American population (750 pairs) breeds here.
Other birds breeding in the area include a colony of Common Eiders (160 nests at the southwest tip of Calf Island), as well as a few colonies of Glaucous and Thayers gulls.
The nesting Black Guillemots are susceptible to disturbance and could also be adversely affected by pollution of their marine foraging areas. However, given the remoteness of this site, there are no threats to the area at present.
The site has been designated an International Biological Programme Site.IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status