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Baffin Bay

The Baffin Bay is found in the North Atlantic Ocean between Greenland and Baffin Island.

The bay is covered in ice and icebergs for most of the year, making it impossible to navigate.

In summer, 80,300 square kilometers in the North (known as the North Water) clears from the ice, and this is where the majority if the Baffin Bay marine life can be found.

Baffin Bay Facts for Kids

  • Near the coast, the bay is less than 1,000 meters deep.
  • The bottom of the sea is covered with sand, gravel and crushed stone.
  • Baffin Hollow is a deep pit in the center of the bay which reaches 2,136 meters deep and covered in silt.
  • Humans have inhabited Baffin Bay since around 500 B.C. The first settlers were the Dorset settlers who were replaced by the Thule people in 1200 A.D.
  • John Davis was recorded as the first English explorer to visit the Baffin Bay in 1585.
  • The Baffin Bay and Baffin Island are named after William Baffin, who explored the bay in the early 1600s.
  • Baffin Bay is known for its hostile environment, and because of this, it is not exploited mainly by humans. It is, however, an area with a great interest in geological exploration.
  • The Nares Strait connects the Baffin Bay to the Arctic Ocean, and the Davis Strait forms a connection to the Atlantic Ocean and the Labrador Sea. In winter, the surface temperature of the water is usually below -1°C and in summer it ranges from 0°C and below in the North-West and around 4-5°C in the South-East.
  • The salinity of the water also changes with the seasons. In winter the salinity is slightly higher in the winter (34%) compared to summer (30-32%)
  • During winter, 80% of Baffin Bay consists of ice in various forms- continuous ice, fast ice and floating ice. In the warmer months of August-September, drifting ice is still present in the central and western parts of the bay.

Biodiversity

Although the water remains frozen for most of the year, there is still an abundance of fauna. Zooplankton and ice algae get air from the North Water in the bay. Around 20,000 beluga whales are living in the Baffin Bay, of which 15,000 of them live in the North Water.

Other animals you can find in the Baffin Bay include a polar bear, walrus, various seal species, narwhal, rorquals, and bowhead whales. The Baffin Bay is also home to roughly 400 different plant species, most of which are adapted to living in a saltwater environment.

Caribou and lemming rodents feed off these plants in the bay. Fish that can be found in this region include Arctic flounder, polar cod, capelin and four-horned sculpin.

Other species of fish migrate to the bay from the Atlantic Ocean. The birdlife is also abundant although, they do migrate South for the winter.

Economic Value

According to the US Geological Survey, an estimated 13% of undiscovered oil deposits and 30% of undiscovered gas pockets in the word are situated in the Arctic. This means that the Baffin Bay could potentially be holding large amounts of oil and natural gas.

Exploration for oil and gas in the region has not yet been done due to a lack of interest. This will be great economic value to Greenland in the future should companies choose to mine for oil and natural gas in the Baffin Bay.

 

Questions
1. When did humans first inhabit the Baffin Bay?
2. Where is the Baffin Bay located?
3. In which area do most of the animals live in the Baffin Bay?

Answers
1. 500 B.C.
2. In the North Atlantic Ocean between Greenland and Baffin Island
3. The North Water