Polar safari looking for typical arctic wildlife

June 10-17, 2014

Would you like to see the narwhals in their natural environment? Or are you rather looking for a birding trip in the arctic? If you are interested in a safari tour in the Arctic, the ice edge (the place where the sea ice actually becomes the sea) at the beginning of the summer, is the ideal spot where to observe typical arctic wildlife, such as narwhals, seals, walruses, flock of birds and, if you are lucky, also polar bears.

Bird on take off
The take-off. A trip to the Arctic along an ice floe edge lets to observe many species of birds. In this photo, a Thick Billed Murre (Uria lomvia).

 

Thick-billed murre Uria lomvia
Pictures of Thick Billed Murre. The distribution range of this bird corresponds to the polar and sub-polar regions of the northern hemisphere.

 

Bird eating a fish
A Thick Billed Murre who has just caught a fish.

 

Narwhals in the Arctic
A trip along an ice floe edge is a good opportunity to see the narwhals. The narwhal is a 4-5 meter long whale that lives in the Arctic Ocean, especially in the Baffin Bay (the strait that separates Greenland from Canada) and is rarely found south of the 70th parallel (roughly the latitude of Barrow in Alaska).

 

Narwhal tail Narwhal tails
Narwhals Narwhal
Arctic wildlife
Pictures of narwhals. If you are looking for a trip where you can see narwhals, an Arctic expedition ​​along the edge of the sea ice is a good option. Like for other whales, the narwhals cyclically rise to the surface to breathe, before plunging again into the abyss with a swing that occasionally will show the whole tail outside the water.

 

Narwhals Narwhal
More photo of narwhals. The peculiarity of the narwhal is to have a tusk that can exceed two meters in length. Only males are equipped with it, although it can also occur rarely in some female. The tusk is shown out of the water only occasionally and it has a spiral shape always winding counter-clockwise.

 

Narwhal tusk
Picture of a narwhal with tusk and part of the head out from the water.

 

A microphone lowered into the water allows tourists to listen to the creatures of the sea and maybe understand if there are narwhals in the vicinity.

 

Birds Thick-billed murres
Urie
Flock of birds
Sitting on the ice, I enjoy photographing flocks of birds flying in formation on the polar landscape. These are formed predominantly by guillemot of Brunnich, but there are some species of goose too.

 

Seal Seal in the water
Occasionally, some seal emerges from the sea to breathe.

 

 

Polar bear footprints Polar bear footprint
Pictures of polar bears footprints. Who is the king of the Arctic? These footprints, always numerous in this region of the Arctic, witness the passage of the giant of the north pole: the polar bear. In the photo above, a polar bear's footprint compared to may hand.



 

Polar bear
Photo of a polar bear. Polar bears living along the ice floe edge are numerous, and strict rules are enforced to guarantee the safety.

 

Polar bear eating a seal
White bear
More pictures of polar bear, not far from our basecamp, eating a seal. These pictures are taken with a 300mm zoom (equivalent to 450mm on a 24x36 frame). If you take wildlife photography seriously, it will be necessary to come here with powerful lenses, otherwise just enjoy the scene by binoculars. In this specific case, there were gulls trying to steal some meat, and I felt myself like inside a National Geographic documentary expedition.

 

Seal carcass
Who was responsible for this? This seal was certainly eat by a polar bear.

 

Crack along sea ice Seal breathing hole
On the left picture: a crack between two ice floe, usually used by seals to breath. On top picture, a seal breathing hole. These holes are kept open by seals throughout the winter, by breaking new ice each time.




 

Seals Ringed seal
Seal breathing from an hole
Pictures of seals out from the ice floe.

 

Walrus
Another big animal that lives in the Arctic is the walrus. It is an animal rather aggressive and nervous, that tourists should fear as (or maybe even more) of the polar bear, especially during kayak trips.

 

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