First named Prince Leopold's Isles by William Parry during his expedition of 1819, after then Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (the future King Leopold I of Belgium), maternal uncle and adviser of Queen Victoria.
It is oval-shaped, and 14 km (8.7 mi) east-west by 8 km (5.0 mi) north-south in size.
The island is a Canadian Important Bird Area (#NU006), a federally listed migratory bird sanctuary, and a Key Migratory Bird Terrestrial Habitat site (NU Site 15).
Large numbers of thick-billed murres, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes breed on the cliff ledges, arriving in the vicinity in May or early June and departing by mid-September. The island is the most important station for breeding marine birds in the Canadian Arctic, having larger numbers and a greater diversity of species than any other site. Intensive studies of the breeding seabirds were carried out in 1975-77 and in a dozen subsequent years, providing evidence of how ice conditions affect the breeding birds.