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Cheyne Islands (NU049)


Cheyne Islands (NU049)

Bathurst Island, Nunavut

Latitude 76.325°N
Longitude 97.492°W
Altitude 0 - 3m
Area 56.49km²

Site Description

The Cheyne Islands consist of three islands of similar size, oriented north-south with approximately two kilometres of open water between each island. North, Middle, and South Cheyne islands lie five kilometres off the eastern coast of Bathurst Island, near Reindeer Bay. All three islands are of low relief (up to three metres above sea level) and are composed of alluvial material. The islands are located on the west side of Penny Strait - several small polynyas develop in May or June on the east side of this strait.


The Cheyne Islands, along with the Churchill area, are the only two known breeding locations of the nationally vulnerable Ross Gull. Three pairs nested on the island in 1976, and six pairs nested in 1978. In 1978, an additional eight unpaired birds were also present. The already-paired gulls arrive in early June and nesting is usually completed by mid-July. Unfortunately, these breeding attempts appeared to have been ultimately unsuccessful, although a juvenile bird was seen flying over Bathurst Island in 1979.

Although all three islands were used for nesting, this species tends to nest erratically, and did not breed regularly in any one location within the islands. At other Ross Gull nesting locations, the birds construct their nests on marshy tundra at the Cheyne Islands, however, nests were built directly on gravel reefs. The polynyas present on the eastern side of Penny Strait provide an important feeding area for the gull. No surveys of these islands have been conducted since 1978, so the present status of Ross Gulls at this site is not known.

Conservation Issues

The nesting Ross Gull are prone 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 at present.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Ross's Gull
Number Year Season
12 - 201978Summer