Bylot Island (Akia) - Nunavut - Canada
Bylot Island (known as Akia in the local Inuktituk language) is located off the northern end of Baffin Island in Nunavut, Canada. At 11,067 km2, it is the 71st largest island in the world and Canada's 17th largest island. The island measures 180 km east to west and 110 km north to south and is one of the largest uninhabited islands in the world. While there are no permanent settlements on Bylot, Inuit from Pond Inlet regularly travel to the island.
Angilaaq Mountain (the highest point on the island at just over 6,400 feet), Malik Mountain, Mount St. Hans, and Mount Thule are the most prominant mountains. Tay Bay (made famous by Alvah Simon's book North To The Night) is located on the north west coast. Just south of Tay Bay is Canada Point. It was here in 1906 that Captain Joseph-Elzéar Bernier claimed the island for Canada (see above photograph). The most famous visitor to Bylot was the renowned Inuit leader Qitdlarssuaq who, in 1850, spent time on the island during his epic polar migration. The journey started in the Cumberland Sound area of Baffin Island and ended in the Thule area of north west Greenland.
Almost all of Bylot island is contained within Sirmilik National Park. "Sirmilik" is an Inuktituk word meaning "Place of Glaciers". The island's north shore faces Lancaster Sound, across to Devon Island and the eastern entrance to the famous Northwest Passage. The north coast of Bylot is rarely visited by anyone and only a relatively few photographs and videos exist to show both its topography and character.
The north coast is also known as a major polar bear denning area. Narwhal, beluga, bowhead whale, harp, ringed and bearded seal frequent the area during the spring and summer. On the north west coast can be found Cape Hay, one of the most important breeding and nesting areas for a variety of birds including thick billed Murres and black-legged Kittiwakes.
The island was given its name after the Arctic explorer Robert Bylot, the first European to sight it in 1616.