aukkanniq - polynya

Go to the interactive SIKU site

aukkanniq - polynya

aukkanniq - polynya

Indigenous Knowledge

ikirasaq ᐃᑭᕋᓴᖅ 'Polynya, open all winter due to strong currents, but can freeze over at times.' (Sanikiluaq Siku Terminology Workshop, 2018)

sarva ᓴᕐᕙ ‘an area “where there are currents”, that does not freeze over in the winter, occurs within tuvaq where there are strong currents or a lot of small islands. WMO term: polynya’ (North/South Qikiqtaaluk, Inuit Siku Atlas)

aukkanniq ᐊᐅᒃᑲᓐᓂᖅ  ‘ᐃᒪᐅᓂᖅ ᓯᑯᑉ ᐊᑯᓐᓂᖓᓂ. (ᓯᑯᓱᐃᑦᑐᖅ) ᖃᖓᑐᐃᓐᓇᖅ ᓯᑯᖃᕐᑎᓪᓗᒍ ᓴᕿᓯᒪᔪᖅ. ᑕᕆᐅᑉ ᐃᖏᕐᕋᓂᖓᓄᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᒪᖅ ᐳᐃᕐᐸᓪᓚᖃᑦᑕᕐᓂᖓᓄᑦ ᓯᑯᔪᓐᓇᖏᑦᑐᖅ. ᐊᖑᓱᒃᕕᑦᑎᐊᕙᐅᔪᖅ. ᑭᒃᓕᖓ ᓯᓂᖓ ᐃᔾᔪᓪᓗᓂ ᓯᑯᖓ ᖃᓕᕇᒃᑎᓐᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᓯᑯᓄᑦ, ᑭᓯᐊᓂ ᑐᑎᕝᕕᒃᓴᐅᖏᑦᑐᖅ ᐊᒧᓯᓇᓱᒃᓗᓂ ᓇᑦᑎᕐᒥᒃ,
ᑭᒃᓕᖓ ᓇᖏᐊᓇᕐᑐᖅ ᐊᑦᑕᕐᓇᕐᑐᖅ.
Imauniq sikup akunningani. (Sikusuittuq) qangatuinnaq sikuqartillugu saqisimajuq. Tariup ingirraninganut ammalu imaq puirpallaqattarninganut sikujunnangittuq. Angusukvittiavaujuq. Kiklinga sininga ijjulluni sikunga qaliriiktinnirmut sikunut, kisiani tutivviksaungittuq amusinasukluni nattirmik, kiklinga nangianartuq attarnartuq.
Open water with ice all around (polynya). They can occur all ice season. Ocean currents and upwelling keeps these areas ice free. Good for hunting. They can have thick white edges from ice build up, but don’t step on it when pulling in a seal, this edge is not safe.’ (Mittimatalik, North Qikiqtaaluk, Sikumiut Committee, Wilson and Arreak 2022: 93)

Western Knowledge

polynya 'Any non-linear shaped opening enclosed by ice. May contain brash ice and/or be covered with new ice, nilas or young ice; sub-mariners refer to these as skylights.' (MANICE)

An area of open water surrounded by sea ice that remains open throughout the winter due to strong currents. This gives sea creatures access to the air to breath and marine animals access to the ocean to hunt. Additionally, because sunlight hits the water, Polynyas are nutrient rich and support marine life throughout the winter while they are also the first places to melt in spring. For this reason, they are often referred to as “arctic oases’”. However, not all polynyas stay open all winter which can result in die offs of creatures that depend on them as seen in our film People of a Feather with the Arctic Eider Duck. The biggest known permanent polynya, called the North Water Polynya (NOW), is located in the Northern Baffin Bay between Baffin Island, Nunavut and Greenland.

Profile photo credit: Joel Heath
Second photo credit: Joel Heath