Nettilling Lake, Nunavut, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - Nunavut -

Biting wind batters the exposed part of your face while snow collects on your parka like dust. The dogs keep pace as your sled slips across the ground. You are in the Arctic, Nunavut to be exact, the northernmost territory of Canada, and you are on your way to Nettilling Lake, led by a friendly Inuit guide.

The Arctic is an adventure like no other and is not for the easily frostbitten or weak-kneed. Nettilling Lake is not anywhere close to civilization, unless you count Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut that, though separated from the lake by miles of nothing but tundra, whipping cold, heavy snow that falls at any time of the year, polar bears and unexpected dangers, inhabits the same southern part of Baffin Island. Most of the island, known to be the fifth largest island in the world, is beyond the Arctic Circle and near the North Pole, which means months of constant day when the sun never sets, and alternatively, in the winter, months of constant darkness.

Nettilling Lake is the largest lake on both Baffin Island and in Nunavut and is touted as the world’s largest lake on an island. Though it is frozen for most of the year, it is very much alive with the Ringed Seals, ninespine and threespine stickleback that live in it and the fighting Arctic char that pose an exciting challenge for any action-loving angler.

The majority of the lake shoreline is flanked by Precambrian rocks that were formed billions of years ago. Around the lake, you will find herds of caribou and wandering polar bear that roam freely on the wild splendor of Baffin Island. Nettilling Lake is in the Great Plain of the Koukdjuak, an extensive lowland tundra that is a prime spot for many migratory birds and that makes up most of the western shore of the lake. The plain has the largest colony of geese in the entire world, which helps classify it as a globally-recognized “Important Bird Area.”

Officially established in 1999, Nunavut, Canada’s newest territory, is largely populated by Inuit, an indigenous people who have inhabited the Arctic for thousands of years. Most of Baffin Island’s population is concentrated in the Nunavut capital of Iqaluit in the southern part of the island. There you will find many chances to immerse yourself in Inuit culture, art, history and customs. But you will also have the best of both worlds: Iqaluit is surprisingly modern for a city in the middle of the Arctic. Equipped with commonplace modern conveniences, you can taste a palette of Inuit favorites or opt for pizza or burgers with fries. Shopping is just as convenient as in any other Western city and a trip to art galleries, museums and jewellery stores will reveal Iqaluit’s treasures. You may also use the city as a base to experience the island’s wild outdoors. Imagine yourself watching the float of icebergs, camping by a sanctuary of birds or caribou herds, sea-kayaking through ice drifts, or hunting walrus.

There are a few outdoor parks on Baffin Island that are largely untouched and undeveloped. On the 75-mile Itijjagiaq Trail, traditionally used by Inuit travelling to the Nettilling area, there are emergency shelters that provide protection against polar bear encounters, difficult weather, or injury. In very wild terrain that can become dangerous quite quickly, only visitors with backpacking experience, knowledge of first aid and map reading ability are encouraged to venture out into the wilderness on their own. But many outfitters and guides are available to make your unique Arctic adventure happen the way you envision it, as you will need help getting near Nettilling Lake.

A journey to Baffin Island and the Arctic wild will be the most exciting thing you have ever done. On your way to Nettilling Lake, experience the vibrance of Iqaluit, the awe of the aurora borealis, the tundra oases and wildflowers that bloom only for a short while. Feel the honor and adrenaline rush of witnessing, from safety, one of the island’s white bears, hundreds of other sea animals and the grace of birds. This land will touch you forever.

Things to do at Nettilling Lake

  • Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Nettilling Lake

  • Char
  • Stickleback

Nettilling Lake Photo Gallery

    Nettilling Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Surface Area: 1,369,458 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 98 feet

    Average Depth: 66 feet

    Maximum Depth: 433 feet

    Water Volume: 92,421,304 acre-feet

    Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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