Polar bears investigating a nuclear submarine near the north pole. Sadly cruising the Arctic in a submarine does reduce visibility a little so it’s probably best to stick to regular surmarine cruises. Photo by USS Honolulu.
Sightings will depend on the area of the Arctic visited, the specific tour and the weather conditions at that time but there will be possible sightings of:
Polar Bears, the second largest bear on the planet (the Kodiak is bigger but very rare) and always left-handed (paws for thought?). Known as ‘Nanuk’ to the Inuit, the polar bear is a big fan of seal sashimi and lives in coastal regions including Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia. The best place to find them easily is Churchill, Manitoba in Canada, where people and bears have been co-existing more or less successfully since the eighteenth century. Problems are rare and always occur through starving bears or human stupidity.
Arctic Fox: closely related to the Red Fox it has adapted with a thicker coat and Arctic colourings. Comfortable with humans, they sometimes travel in groups. Seen in the northern regions of Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Finland, and Russia during the summer months or more southerly regions during the harsh winters.
The Albatross: the largest flying bird in the world and once a favourite food for the Inuit, it sleeps on the wing, like flying first class.
Bald Eagle: once common throughout North America and Canada they still inhabit the more northerly areas into the Arctic wilderness.
Grey Wolf: the largest of the wolves and a pack hunter in northern timbered areas of the U. S. A, Canada, northern Europe and north east Russia. The Arctic wolf is a smaller and lighter coloured version. Misunderstood by humans (like most animals) and therefore endangered. If you see one running frantically about, nose to the ground, it’s hunting mice!
Beluga Whale: an absolutely gorgeous, cheerfully photogenic white whale (these are the only whales that can turn their heads).
Peregrine Falcon: holds the world record (radar recorded) for a speeding nose dive.
Narwahal: the ‘sea unicorn’ is a small whale with a long corkscrew horn. These fantasy creatures live between Canada and Greenland.
Wolverine: this fascinating weasel on steroids can be found the northern reaches of the USA, much of Canada, the mountains of Norway, Finland and much of north eastern Russia.
Caribou: otherwise known as reindeer, this deer with velvet horns is the Arctic’s most romantically associated animal. Domesticated sled pulling reindeer are one of the more environmentally sound ways to travel on your holiday. Found in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Finland, Sweden and Russia.
Walrus: the majority of these toothy giants live in the Pacific Ocean, summering in the Bering Sea and wintering in the more northerly Chukcki Sea via a swim or a lift on an iceberg between Alaska and Siberia. Their less migratory cousins in the Atlantic tend to hang out around the northern shores of Canada and Greenland. They pose about on rocky outcrops waiting to be photographed by tourists.
Bowhead Whale: also known as the Northern Right Whale or Greenland Right Whale, one of the three whales unique to the Arctic.
Seals: The ring seal (a polar bear’s favourite meal) spends most of its life under the ice. I wonder why?
Musk Ox: a hairy buffalo type animal previously hunted to near extinction but reintroduced to Alaska and the Taimyr peninsula in Russia. Very hard heads that give resounding thumps during the mating season.
p.s Absolutely no exist penguins in the Arctic!
A Denali fox going home with a takeaway Arctic Ground Squirrel, Alaska, USA