East Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary

East Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary: landscape picture
Photo: Paul Smith © Environment and Climate Change Canada. East Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary: landscape.

East Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is situated 35 km east of Coral Harbour on Southampton Island within the Kivalliq Region of Nunavut. The MBS includes the marine waters of East Bay and most of the lowland terrestrial area west of the Bell Peninsula between East Bay and Native Bay.

The MBS is underlain by limestone and is mostly part of the Boothia-Foxe Shield. Poorly drained, flat, sedge meadow lowlands with irregularly shaped shallow lakes and raised beaches surround East Bay, a 50 km-long inlet. Dominant vegetation of the sedge meadows consists of sedge, cotton-grass and a variety of mosses. Lake edges are bordered by sedge-willow meadows characterized by sedge, cotton-grass, bog-rush and willows. Disintegrated limestone outcrops break up the sedge lowland as the elevation increases towards Native Bay. Granite outcrops occur on the northern portion of the MBS. A small rocky island is located in East Bay about 5 km from the south shore.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

In1957, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service proposed the establishment of a sanctuary at East Bay (and at Boas River) to protect the main nesting areas of Lesser Snow Geese from disturbance from potential prospecting and tourist activities on Southampton Island. The East Bay MBS was established in 1959.

The most recent photo surveys (2008) estimated that the area in and adjacent to the sanctuary supported a nesting population of 164 800 Lesser Snow Geese. The area is also used by an estimated 5 000 to 6 000 nesting Atlantic Brant and over 600 Cackling Geese. Approximately 4 800 Common Eiders used the small island in the middle of East Bay in 2011. Other waterfowl species including King Eiders, Long-tailed Ducks and Tundra Swans also nest in the sanctuary. Northern Pintail are also seen regularly and are thought to breed.

Other aquatic species known to breed within the sanctuary are Sabine's and Herring Gulls, Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plovers, White-rumped Sandpipers, Red Knots, Red Phalaropes, Ruddy Turnstones, Red-throated and Pacific Loons, Arctic Terns, and both Parasitic and Long-tailed Jaegers. Whimbrels pass through the area in large numbers during fall migration.

Access and Activities

MBSs are established for the protection and conservation of migratory birds. Activities that could harm migratory birds, their nests or their eggs are prohibited.

MBSs can be and have been established on private, provincial, territorial and federally owned lands. Access to each MBS varies by site and is at the discretion of the landowner and land manager.

Where MBSs are located on federal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the management and protection of migratory birds, nests, eggs and habitat. Where MBSs are located on provincial land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests, while the chief game officer of the province is responsible for the management of habitat. Where MBSs are located on private or municipal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests. Habitat management is the responsibility of the landowner.

Access to East Bay MBS may be authorized as per the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations. However, under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries in the Nunavut Settlement Area, only Nunavut beneficiaries have right of access for the purpose of subsistence harvest and do not require a permit to carry out activities related to subsistence harvesting.

For all other users, the standard prohibitions under the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations apply to East Bay MBS: hunting migratory birds is prohibited, and no person shall disturb, destroy or take the nest of a migratory bird or have in his or her possession a live migratory bird, or a carcass, skin, nest or egg of a migratory bird, except under the authority of a permit issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada or unless authorized by the Regulations. Possession of firearms or other hunting appliances is prohibited. Anyone wishing to access East Bay MBS is advised to apply for a permit.

For more information on entry, activities and permits in MBSs, please visit the Management and Activities section of the Migratory Bird Sanctuaries website. For more information on Environment and Climate Change Canada's protected areas, please contact the regional office.

For greater certainty, nothing in this document shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for existing Aboriginal or treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Map of the Area

  • Map of the  East Bay  Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
Long description of the map

Map showing the location of East Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Nunavut, Southhampton Island, East Bay, Foxe Channel and Native Bay. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers most of East Bay and extends inland. The scale of the map is in kilometers.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. East Bay MBS can also be viewed using Google Maps. Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name.

Summary table

Summary table for East Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Nunavut
Latitude/longitude 64°00' N, 82°00' W
Size in hectares (ha) 112 811 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1959
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Ib - Wilderness Area
Additional designations Part of East Bay/Native Bay Important Bird Area
Main habitat type Water bodies and exposed sediment (40%), moss-peat-graminoid lowlands (38%), patterned ground and bare deposit uplands (17%), exposed rock and lichen-heath tundra highlands (5%)
Key bird species Lesser Snow Goose, Atlantic Brant, Cackling Goose, Common Eider, King Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Tundra Swan, Sabine's Gull, Herring Gull, White-rumped Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, Red Phalarope, Red-throated and Pacific Loon, Arctic Tern, Parasitic Jaeger, Long-tailed Jaeger, Ruddy Turnstone, Long-tailed Duck, Northern Pintail, Black-bellied Plover, Red Knot, and Whimbrel
Other species Mammals: Polar Bear and Beluga
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Polar Bear and Beluga
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Prairie and Northern Region, in collaboration with the Irniurviit Co-Management Committee of Coral Harbour
Landowners Inuit-owned land and Crown land

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Prairie and Northern Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship
Eastern Arctic Unit
P.O. Box 1714
Iqaluit NU X0A 0H0
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Privacy statement

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: