Ninginganiq National Wildlife Area

Aerial view of the Ninginganiq NWA showing island and surrounding water.
Photo: © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Ninginganiq National Wildlife Area - Aerial view.

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The Ninginganiq National Wildlife Area (NWA) was designated in 2010 and is the largest NWA in Canada measuring over 336 397 hectares (ha). Located 120 kilometres (km) south of Clyde River, on the north-east coast of Baffin Island, Nunavut, the NWA includes the shoreline and islands of Isabella Bay and adjacent ocean out to 12 nautical miles from shore. The Inuktitut word "Ninginganiq" translates roughly as "the place where fog sits."

The Ninginganiq NWA provides important marine habitat, the interplay of ocean and wind currents with the shallow banks off the coast of Isabella Bay, deep troughs further offshore, ocean and wind currents, creating ideal conditions for Bowhead Whales. Up to 100 Bowheads have been recorded at one time in Isabella Bay, making this the single largest known concentration for this species anywhere in Canada. While some of the population, including Cows and calves, move westward through Lancaster Sound in late June and early July, others, mainly adults and large adolescents, remain off the east coast of Baffin Island for the summer and fall. The Ninginganiq NWA also supports healthy populations of Polar Bears, Ringed Seals, King Eiders, Long-tailed Duck, Dovekies, Northern Fulmars, and Narwhal.

More information on Ninginganiq NWA is provided in the summary table below.


NWA are protected and managed according to the Wildlife Area Regulations under the Canada Wildlife Act. The primary purpose of NWAs is the protection and conservation of wildlife and their habitat. For this purpose, and according to the legislation, Environment and Climate Change Canada can prohibit all activities in a NWA that could interfere with the conservation of wildlife. Consequently, most NWAs are not accessible to the public and all activities are prohibited. Nonetheless, Environment and Climate Change Canada has the ability to authorize some activities, whether through public notice or the issuance of permits, as long as these are consistent with the management plan goals for the NWA . For more information, consult the NWAs Management and Activities section.

In the Nunavut territory, Nunavut beneficiaries, as per the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA), can harvest wildlife (including collecting migratory bird eggs and feathers) for their economic, social and cultural needs (Article 5 of the NLCA). Ninginganiq NWA , as per the NLCA and Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for conservation areas, is managed in partnership by Environment and Climate Change Canada with the Ninginganiq Area Co-management Committee (ACMC) of Clyde River, Nunavut.

Access to Ninginganiq NWA is restricted except for Nunavut beneficiaries. For all non-beneficiaries, a permit must be obtained to either access or conduct any type of activity in the NWA . Activities that may be permitted will be in accordance with the conservation objectives of the NWA management plan.

More information on access and permitting for Ninginganiq NWA can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.

Map of the Area

  • Ninginganiq NWA boundaries.
Long description for the Map

Map showing the area around Aulitivik Island including a portion of Baffin Island and Baffin Bay in Nunavut. The boundaries of Ninginganiq NWA are indicated. The protected area covers Aulitivik Island as well as the water and shoreline of Baffin Island that surround it and it extends out into Baffin Bay. The scale on the map is in tens of kilometers. Permanent water is indicated on the map. A small inset national map situates the NWA in Canada.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Ninginganiq NWA 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

This table provides summary information for Ninginganiq NWA
Category Information
Protected Area designation NWA
Province/territory Nunavut
Latitude/longitude 69°37' North / 67°00' West
Size 336,397 ha
Reason for creation of protected area Contains nationally significant habitat for Bowhead Whales.
Date created (Gazetted) 2010 - Legal Description
International Union for Conservation of Nature
(IUCN) Management Category
Ib - Wilderness Area
Additional designations None
Keystone or flagship species Bowhead Whale.
Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Polar Bear, Ringed Seals
Main habitat type Mostly marine.
Faunistic and floristic importance Largest concentration of Bowhead Whales in Canada.
Invasive species None recorded
Additional links

Birds: King Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Dovekie, and Northern Fulmar.

Mammals: Ringed Seals, and Narwhal.

Main threats and challenges Increased shipping for hydrocarbon exploration, development and cruise ships.
Management Agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usage None except for Nunavut beneficiaries and people with appropriate permits.

Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page and any notice posted at the NWA site, the notice prevails as it is the legal instrument authorizing the activity.

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Prairie Northern Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship
P. O. Box 1714
Iqaluit, Nunavut
X0A 0H0
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
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