Reasons to Go
Animals of the Arctic
The largest bear species in the world, the polar bear is the Arctic’s apex predator, a skilled hunter subsisting mainly on seal, along with walrus, narwhal and beluga whale. Its snowy complexion is deceptive: the polar bear’s skin is actually black, with its dense outer coating of hollow, translucent fur reflecting the light in a grey or yellowish hue.
The ringed seal — so named for its distinctive circular markings — is the most common seal species in the Arctic, as well as the smallest, making it a frequent target for predation by polar bear, orca and even Arctic fox, which target their pups. Ringed seal themselves mostly eat fish and can dive to up to 150 feet in search of food.
These spry, abundant hunters are superbly adapted to life in the cold. Their coats grow much thicker and whiter in winter; their smaller, more rotund shape helps them retain more body heat; and they can regulate the temperature of their legs independently, insuring they can walk and run in snow without succumbing to frostbite.
Another common Arctic dweller is this medium-sized seal, named for (and easily recognized by) its abundant whiskers. They are frequently preyed upon by polar bear as well as Inuit hunters, who value their tough hides for making shoes, boat covers and tupiqs (summer tents).
These truly iconic creatures reside near the top of the Arctic food chain — even polar bear are hard-pressed to bring down a mature walrus. Prized for their meat, blubber and tusks, they were hunted extensively by whaling ships in the 19th century, to the point that walrus are still considered a vulnerable species today.
The humpback whale’s frequent, spectacular leaps from the water make it a favorite of whale watchers all along its considerable range. Hunted nearly to extinction by the whaling industry through the 18th and 19th centuries, the humpback was finally protected by strict conservation laws, and in the last 50 years, has made a remarkable recovery.
Get an up-close view of these and countless other Arctic species on an A&K expedition.
A&K Luxury Expedition Cruises to the Arctic
Luxury Expedition Cruises Exclusively chartered, all-inclusive voyages led by A&K’s Expedition Team.18 days from $47,995 per person was $51,995Limited to 199 guests
Luxury Expedition Cruises Exclusively chartered, all-inclusive voyages led by A&K’s Expedition Team.15 days from $20,495 per person was $22,995Limited to 199 guests