Qaqulluit National Wildlife Area

Rocky cliffs
Photo: Garry Donaldson © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Qaqulluit National Wildlife Area - landscape

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The Qaqulluit National Wildlife Area (NWA) was established in 2010. Formerly known as the Cape Searle, this NWA is located on the north-eastern tip of Qaqulluit Island, a small island off the eastern coast of Baffin Island approximately 100 kilometres (km) southeast of Qikiqtarjuaq (formerly Broughton Island) and just north of the Cumberland Peninsula, Nunavut. Qaqulluit (the Inuktitut word for "Northern Fulmar") is close to the former community of Padloping Island (a U.S. Coast Guard Station) and the Distant Early Warning (DEW line) site on Durban Island. Qaqulluit NWA contains key marine habitat and is exemplified by two huge rock spires that are topped with hardy arctic plants and covered in brilliant Orange Lichens. There are also several archaeological sites on Qaqulluit Island.

Qaqulluit NWA is home to Canada's largest breeding colony of Northern Fulmars, representing an estimated 22% (about 44 000 pairs) of the total Canadian population. Other nesting seabirds found in the NWA include Black Guillemots and various Gulls species like the Glaucous and Iceland gulls. The NWA is also an Important Bird Area (IBA), the nesting birds being sensitive to disturbance and the pollution of their feeding areas. The marine portion further protects marine mammal populations of Walrus and Ringed Seals that regularly use the waters of the wildlife area.

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


NWAs 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 hunt wildlife (including collecting migratory bird eggs and feathers) for his or her economic, social and cultural needs (Article 5 of the NLCA). Qaqulluit NWA, as per the NLCA and the conservation areas Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement, is managed in partnership by Environment and Climate Change Canada with the Sululiit Area Co-management Committee (ACMC) of Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut.

Access to Qaqulluit 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 Qaqulluit NWA can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.

Map of the Area

  • Qaqulluit NWA
Long description for the Map

Map showing a portion of Baffin Island, Nunavut, near Merchants Bay and the Davis Strait. The boundaries of Qaqulluit NWA are indicated. The protected area covers a portion of the Davis Strait near Merchants bay as well as a portion of a small island at the mouth of the bay. The scale on the map is in km. 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. Qaqulluit 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

Summary Table for the Qaqulluit NWA
Category Information
Protected Area designation NWA
Province/territory Nunavut
Latitude/longitude 67°14' North / 62°28'West
Size in ha 39,821 ha
Reason for creation of protected area Contains 22% of the Canadian breeding population of Northern Fulmars.
Date created (Gazetted) 2010 - Legal Description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Ib - Wilderness Area
Additional designations
Keystone or flagship species Northern Fulmar.
Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None recorded
Main habitat type Mostly marine and including a terrestrial portion comprised of two rock towers, Orange Lichen and Graminoid vegetation.
Invasive species None recorded
Additional links

Birds: Black Guillemot, Glaucous Gull and Iceland Gull.

Mammals: Walrus, and Ringed Seal.

Main threats and challenges Increased shipping activities and hydrocarbon exploration development (threats of oil spills). Increased cruise ships activities.
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 and Northern Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship
Eastern Arctic Unit
P. O. Box 1714
Iqaluit, Nunavut
X0A 0H0
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
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