Melville Bay

In the southern Melville Bay

The Melville Bay (Danish Melville Bugt, Kalaallisut Qimusseriarsuaq, "big Hundeschlittenort " ) is a large bay of Baffin Bay on the west coast of Greenland between Cape York and Upernavik. Its coast is largely uninhabited.

Interrupted by headlands and offshore islands penetrates the Greenland ice sheet at the Melville Bay in front of vast glaciers to the coast, which thus constitutes one of the largest sources of icebergs in Baffin Bay. 19 large glaciers calve every year more than a thousand icebergs with a total volume of 60 km ³. From mid-October to late July, the Bay of Küsteneis is covered, which reaches a maximum thickness of 130 to 180 centimeters. In some summers the ice even remains.


The Melville Bay was used by the Inuit as a hunting ground already when William Baffin and Robert Bylot they first sailed in 1616 with the discovery. It was only in 1818 sailed with John Ross again a European explorers in their waters. Explored in the spring of 1894 and charted Eivind Astrup ( 1871-1895 ), the coast of the Melville Bay.

On August 5, 1977, the Melville Bay was the scene of a tanker accident. The USNS Potomac (T- AO -181 ) collided on the way to Air Force Base Thule Air Base at position 74 ° 52 'N, 61 ° 13' W with an iceberg and was sprung a leak. 405 tonnes of heavy fuel then ran into the sea.


The Melville Bay is frequently visited by polar bears, make at the ice edge hunting ringed seals. Other year-round encountered seal species are the walrus and the bearded seal, while hooded and harp seals visit the bay only between June and October. Of the living species of whales here the Melville Bay is mainly for the narwhal and the beluga ( Beluga ) is important.

Breeding colonies of seabirds are less common than in other Greenland coasts in the Melville Bay. On the Sabine Islands (Sabine Øer ) but you will find the largest colonies of terns and Sabine's Gull whole of Greenland. The most common birds in the area are the black guillemot and glaucous gull the. The colonies of Polarmöwe on the Balgoni Islands ( Balgoni Øer ) represent the northernmost point of its range in Greenland dar.


Part of the Melville Bay and the adjacent coast of Greenland with an area of ​​7957 km ² in 1977 declared a nature reserve. Operating on its core zone, but especially fishing, hunting, gathering eggs, etc. is prohibited. Permanent residents of the former municipalities Upernavik and Avanersuaq may not engage in outside of the protected area but the traditional hunt for belugas, narwhals, polar bears, walruses and seals.

Mineral deposits

In the Melville Bay is rich in oil deposits are suspected. The Greenland government has already issued to several oil companies licenses to their Erkundungung. Cairn Energy plans to first test drilling for 2013 or 2014.