Bylot Island

Bylot Island

At 11,067 km² in area, Bylot Island is the largest of the several hundred offshore islands and islets that surround the 507,451 km² Baffin Island. Nestled into the northeastern coastline of its much larger southern neighbour, Bylot Island is separated from the Borden Peninsula of the Baffin Island mainland by the 9-12 km km wide Navy Board Channel on the west, by the Pond Inlet on the east and by the Eclipse Sound on the southeast and south; its northern shores face the open waters of Baffin Bay. The island has a diamond-like shape, measuring 180 km from east to west and 110 km from north to south.

The northern two-thirds of the island are mountainous — forming part of the Arctic Cordillera mountain chain that extends for 1,300 km northeastwards from the Torngat Mountains on the fringes of the Labrador Peninsula in the southeast, through eastern Baffin Island and across much of Ellesmere Island in the northeast. In this particular region the Arctic Cordillera forms the Byam Martin Mountains, extending east to west across the island. Malik Mountain, located near the island's centre, is the highest point at 1,905 m above sea level. Sharp peaks and ridges, divided by deep glacier-filled valleys are typical features across this area of Bylot Island. Some 4,800 km² of the island is covered by glaciers. Many of these terminate on the lowland plains of the south or on the northern coastal lowlands, with only a few reaching the sea (Bylot Island's glaciers, emerging from the highlands on to the lowlands, are particularly prominent in the large size image). The southern reaches of the island comprise a low-lying, post-glacial, plain of some 1,600 km² in area that gently slopes to the highlands of the central mountains.

Most of the island, except for a few coastal patches, is protected (since 2001) by the 22,000 km² Sirmilik National Park (Canada's third largest); the park also includes the eastern portions of the Borden Peninsula and the area around Oliver Inlet — both on the Baffin Island mainland. The island supports globally important populations of the Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens), and regionally important colonies of Thick-billed Murre (Uria lomvia) and Black-legged Kittiwake (Riss tridactyla). The southern plains of the island in particular represent an important Arctic ecoregion, with more than 360 species of plants, 10 species of mammal and 74 species of bird.

image: MODIS rapid response project at nasa/goddard space flight center

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