Wildlife viewing

Sirmilik National Park

Sirmilik National Park is home to an incredible array of wildlife, including polar bears, caribou, Arctic foxes, Arctic wolves, narwhals, belugas, seals, and many species of birds.

The most popular way to view wildlife is on guided trips to the floe edge – where land-fast ice meets open water – during the spring season (late April to early June). At this time of year, a wide variety of marine animals and birds gather at the floe edge to feed, rest and socialize, making it an ideal place to observe some of Nunavut’s most iconic wildlife.

Visitors can also get a glimpse of Arctic wildlife on hiking trips, skiing expeditions, boat tours, cruise ships, and more. Depending on the activity, visitors can travel independently or book a trip with a local guide or tour operator.

A group of people watching for wildlife at the floe edgeWatching for wildlife at the floe edge
A close-up of a beluga rising vertically from the waterBelugas are abundant in the waters of Sirmilik National Park

Bird watching

Sirmilik National Park has some spectacular bird watching opportunities. In addition to the floe edge, birds can be seen in incredible numbers at the Bylot Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary, which is located in the park and managed jointly with the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Bylot Island is a nesting site for over 40 species of migratory birds, including seabirds, shorebirds, and migratory waterfowl. Some of these feathered travellers come from as far away as Europe, South America, and even Africa! Bylot Island’s southwest corner also hosts the largest colony of Greater Snow Geese in the world – over 50,000 visit Sirmilik’s wetlands annually.

The Baillarge Bay seabird cliffs, near the community of Arctic Bay, are home to thousands of Thick-billed Murres and Black-legged Kittiwakes, best seen by boat or expedition cruise ships.

Keep track of the species you observe! We encourage visitors to submit their sightings to citizen science data programs, which help to understand the range, abundance, and biology of birds worldwide.

Two young Peregrine Falcons surrounded by tundra sceneryYoung Peregrine Falcons
Four ptarmigan perched on a snow bankA group of Ptarmigan
A Red Knot in shallow waterThe endangered Red Knot

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