The Davis Strait joins two oceanic basins, Baffin Bay and the Labrador Sea, and separates western Greenland and Baffin Island. It connects to the Arctic Ocean in the north via the Baffin Bay and to the Atlantic Ocean in the south via the Labrador Sea. It is considered to be the world’s largest strait and is renowned for exceptionally strong tides, ranging from 9 to 18 m, and complex hydrography. The shelves extending from both Canada and Greenland typically range between 20 and 100 m in depth and are traversed by deep troughs. At its narrowest point, a ridge or sill up to approximately 600 m depth extends between Greenland (at Holsteinborg, Sisimiut) and Baffin Island (at Cape Dyer). The slopes along the Labrador Sea flank of this ridge and farther south along the Labrador and West Greenland shelves drop to 2500 m or more. On these slopes coral and sponge have been found, including the only known Lophelia pertusa reef in Greenlandic waters. South of Davis Strait the waters off west Greenland support intense phytoplankton blooms in April, which progress northward into the Baffin Bay in May as the seasonal ice-cover retreats. These blooms are characterised by high phytoplankton biomass and a community of grazers dominated by large copepods, i.e. Calanus. Within the study region Calanus provide an important food source for higher trophic levels (e.g. fish, seabirds, whales). In addition, however, they play a key ecological role in supplying the benthic communities with high-quality food via the production of large and fast-sinking faecal pellets. The Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait have the only large-scale commercial fisheries in Canada’s Arctic.
Blue Growth Sectors: Biotechnology, Fisheries
Prominent gorgonian coral (probably Primnoa resedaeformis), sea star (asteroid), glass sponges (hexactinellids) and demosponges. © Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).