Ocean and Seashore

The northern hemisphere polar areas are an extremely cold extension of the Nearctic and Palearctic regions (North America and Eurasia).   

Iceberg (Arctic)

Of all the birds, the Gulls are the most diverse and obvious group along the shores of the Arctic. Below is the Larus hyperboreus 'Glaucous Gull'.

arctic-gullHis feet must be cold.

Waders and shorebirds migrate from all over the world to beed in the Arctic in the northern hemisphere summer.


The most distinctive seabirds of the northern hemisphere polar regions are the Alcids; the Puffins and their relatives. In most people's minds, these are the equivalents of the southern polar penguins.

guillemot-black-non-breeding-greenlandCepphus grylle, 'Black Guillemot', non-breeding, (Skjoldungen, Greenland)

By far the most commonly seen bird above the Arctic waters is the Fulmarus glacialis 'Northern Fulmar'.


Due to historical (and continuing) whaling by humans, none of these whales in Arctic are particuarly 'common', but it is hoped they will slowly start to re-populate the oceans. (Otherwise, Captain Kirk will have to go back in time, again.) The Fin Whale is one of the more commonly seen of the larger whales in Arctic waters. They are the second biggest animal on the planet (after the Blue Whale) and grow to a confirmed length of 25 metres. The dorsal fin is relatively small.

illulisat-fin-whale'Fin Whale', (Ilulissat, Greenland)

The best known and recognized whale in the northern polar waters is the 'Humpback Whale' Megaptera novaeangliae, with it's small curved fin atop 'humped' back.

illulissat-humpback-finHumpback Whale (Ilulissat, Greenland)

The main predator on land in this ecosystem is Ursus maritimus 'Polar Bear'. It is the biggest of all the bears, and the largest land carnivore on the planet.


Of all the 'seals' in the Arctic, the most distinctive is the Odobenus rosmarus 'Walrus'.

(Monumental Island, Canada)

Places to experience the Arctic sea and shore

The areas of the open waters of Arctic Ocean to explore include Ilulissat in Greenland, and Torngat Mountains National Park in Canada.

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