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Meet the Natives
The Arctic’s icy waters and shores are home to an astounding array of wildlife rarely found anywhere else in the world. Arctic animals speak volumes to the magic and resilience of life. From the solitary polar bear to the coat-changing Arctic fox, meet these adaptable locals.
Get to Know the Local Wildlife During Your Visit
The solitary King of the North is found only in the Arctic, where it lives and hunts for seals near ice-covered waters. Well adapted to the harsh climate, the semi-aquatic bear can swim for several hours and also reach speeds of up to 25 mph on land.
The humpback’s distinctive features include long pectoral fins, a knobby head and formidable length (about 53 feet long). Known for breaching and slapping the water, these gentle giants feed in polar waters during the summer months.
Famously mustached and long-tusked, the social walrus is found near the Arctic Circle in the company of friends. Both males and females have tusks, which serve as a mighty tool to help hoist their gigantic bodies out of water.
The most common Arctic seal and also the smallest seal species, the ringed seal is named for the distinctive light-color ringed patterns on its coat. The main prey of the polar bear, they can remain submerged for up to 45 minutes and sometimes blow bubbles first to check for the bears.
Also known as caribou, this species of deer native to the Arctic is found in the northern reaches of North America, Europe, Asia and Greenland. It’s the only species in which both male and female have antlers; the reindeer also complete an annual, epic 600-mile summer migration.
The Atlantic puffin is found exclusively in the North Atlantic Ocean, living most of their lives at sea and known to be excellent swimmers. In summer, the puffin’s beak is red, blue and yellow and explains for the bird’s nickname as the “sea parrot;” in winter, part of the beak is shed.
Finding shelter in burrows, the furry Arctic fox feeds on everything from fish to leftover scraps from a polar bear. From winter to summer, its coat changes from white to brown and black, to better camouflage with its surroundings.
Defined by sharp, sweeping horns and a dense wooly brown coat that can reach the ground like a skirt, the musk ox can withstand winter chills down to -50 degrees. During the rut of high summer, bulls produce the musk for which the species is named.