Devon Island, Nunavut
The Skruis Point IBA consists of two separate stretches of coastline on northern Devon Island in the high arctic. The first section is 22 km long and runs along the eastern side of Skruis Point. The shorter 9 km piece stretches along the coast of Devon Island 10 km to the west, beyond Thomas Lee Inlet. The habitat consists of high coastal cliffs that exceed 150 m in height at some places. The cliffs are oriented towards Jones Sound to the northeast.
Polar Bears use this area for denning and as a summer retreat. Ringed Seals and Walruses are also common in the Skruis Point area.
It is thought that Skruis Point supports the largest Black Guillemot breeding colony in the arctic. Unfortunately, exact numbers are not known, because colony size estimates have varied widely. In 1973, the colony size was estimated to contain from 1,000 to 10,000 pairs of guillemots, although most probably towards the higher end of the range. However, later estimates in 1984 and 1988 suggested that 1,585 and 700 birds respectively were present. The methodology used for the latter numbers tend to underestimate the number of birds so it is likely that at least 1% of the North America Black Guillemot population were present at the site. Different survey methods probably account for some of the variation in colony size estimates, but there may also have been a precipitous decline in the number of guillemots. A current and accurate assessment of the colony size at Skruis Point is needed.
At Skrius Point, the Black Guillemots arrive in mid May and depart the colony in early September. Black Guillemots breed from the eastern Canadian Arctic southeastward to Nova Scotia coasts as well as in the Eurasian north.
Devon Island is in the eastern high arctic. Human presence in this part of Canada is so minimal that disturbance to the colony is extremely unlikely. The only potential threat to Skruis Point birds, is the possible contamination of marine waters from distant sources.
This site has been recognized as important for wildlife by the International Biological Programme of the 1960s and 1970s (Region 9, #2-17), and by the Canadian Wildlife Service as a Key Migratory Bird Terrestrial Habitat site.IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status