Arctic wolves

Arctic wolves

Arctic wolves are the most northerly of the wolves in North America and Greenland. There is a second population of arctic wolves in the north of Russia. However, these are not closely related to the Arctic wolves of the USA. It is also not known exactly how many there are in this part of the world which have developed the white markings.

There are few if any reliable estimates on the size of the population of the north American, though some suggest that roughly 1/3 of the Canadian wolves are arctic wolves. If this is true, then with a population of around 60,000, that would suggest that there are around 20,000.

I should note, that in trying to find a reliable figure for the number of Arctic wolves, I have found that many website list 200,000. Given the world population of wolves is thought to be around 250,000 and that the total north American population is estimated at under 80,000, this statistic is clearly wrong.

Tourism is a great way to protect these wolves, should you work in tourism or conservation of these species we would love to hear from you. Please click on the two person icon at the top of the main website page (sixth icon in from the left) – both those involved in providing some form of tourism service and those involved in conservation should join as members, it is easy to then specify which you are (for those offering a service there is a simple form to fill in which will create a simple page to advertise your services. For those in conservation, it would allow you to easily send in updates and interesting news about your work – we will then post them in the relevant parts of the website. I am also aware that many people in conservation and research run watching trips, to fund their work – we would also be interested in listing these as well (we have often found that these are the most interesting wildlife tours that we have undertaken). It costs nothing to be listed, so if we bring you no business, then it will cost you nothing.

Below here, will appear any blog entries which mention this subspecies of wolf, which for so many is fascinating. 

Any links that we hear about, will be listed at the bottom of the page.

White-beaked dolphin

White beaked dolphin

The white-beaked dolphin  is a marine mammal belonging 

to the family Delphinidae (oceanic dolphins) in the sub order Odontoceti (toothed whales). Their distribution is shown in the map.

The white-beaked dolphin is endemic to the cold temperate and subarctic waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, most commonly in seas less than 1,000 m (3,300 ft) deep. Due to the fact they are not fully adapted to Arctic conditions, they are more vulnerable to predators, most notably polar bears. Within this wider region, white-beaked dolphins are most commonly found in four locales: on the Labrador Shelf close to southwestern Greenland, around Iceland, off the northern and eastern coasts of Britain, and off the coast of Norway. In the Faroe Islands between Iceland and the United Kingdom the White-beaked dolphin is at risk of being hunted during drive catches of the long-finned pilot whales. They may also be incidentally trapped in the purse-sein and trawl nets of the area. There are no recognised subspecies.

The dolphin may easily be misidentified as the Atlantic white-sided dolphin, although the white-beaked is commonly found further north. The white-beaked dolphin is also typically larger, and does not have yellow streaks on its side.

Below is a video (no sound) of them filmed under water off the coast of the UK. Northern parts of the UK have populations, including Lyme bay and areas around the hebrides.

They are thought to number 100,000, so are listed as least concern.

Narwhal

Narwhal

Generally, the source of any so called unicorn horns, they have a tooth that can extend more than 3m from their mouths and some have 2. Most recent populations suggest around 170,000, Induit from Canada and Greenland have hunted them for both meat and ivory.

 

They migrate in winter, and much of their food comes from Arctic cod and Greenland Halibut and live around 50 years. Young narwhals are predated by both Polar bears at breathing holes and Greenland sharks.

They are essentially an odd looking species of dolphin. There are around 123,000 individuals, living in 12 different groups in areas around the arctic.

Beluga Whale

Beluga Whale

Beluga whales are only found in the arctic and sub-arctic oceans. They are one of just 2 species in their family Monodontidae, and are unique in their genus of Delphinapterus. It is also known as the white whale, the sea canary and the Melon-head (though the melon-headed dolphin is a species of its own, so this name may cause some confusion.

Adaptions it has for the Arctic, include the fact that it is white in colour, allowing it to blend into the white world more effectively, and the fact it has no dorsal fin, which allows it to swim very close to the ice sheet above.

Growing up to 5.5m in length and up to 1600kg they are a pretty large dolphin. Generally, living in groups of around 10, in the summer, they group together in their hundreds or thousands.

The worlds population is thought to be around 200,000, Some populations move from the edge of the ice cap, into rivers in warmer areas, while others stay around the ice caps year round. Groups of people in both USA and Russia have hunted them for many centuries.

Hunting is not controlled, and as such the drop in population could happen quite fast. Russia and Greenland have killed enough to drop their local population significantly, though thankfully not Alaska or Canada.

They do also have their natural predators in both the killer whale and the Polar bear.

They are the most commonly kept cetaceans in the world, with around 300 in captivity. Japan, USA, Ukraine, Canada, China and Russia as well as a few more.

There are 22 populations around the world, these vary from 39,000 down to as little as 500. The total population is around 200,000. While this number is large, the number hunted is definitely not sustainable. There is also no care to distinguish the different populations, which suggests that sub-populations could be pushed to extinction without any care.

Below, you will find a clip from a bbc documentary which features this species. Below this, is a list of any mentions that the beluga whale has had on this site. Below this, I will list any opportunities to see this species in the wild. Click on list your wild place, to list yours. It takes just a few minutes, and costs nothing – we only charge a commission on any business we send your way.

Common Minke

Common Minke Whale

The smallest species of rorquals and second smallest baleen whales in the ocean. It was originally ignored, a primary target of whalers in the Southern hemisphere. Also known as the Northern minke whales, it lives in the Southern hemisphere, but is not the Southern Minke as that one lives in the waters around the Antarctic. Its range expands far into the northern hemisphere, up into arctic waters.

Hybrids of the 2 species have been found on several occasions, and it appears that the offspring are fertile – whether this is a threat to the two species as climate change pushes them further together.

It is odd that the common minke whale is also known as the Northern minke whale, as there is a Northern Minke whale which is found in the northern hemisphere.

Links will appear below.

Bowhead whale

Bowhead whale

Also known as Greenland right whale, Arctic whale, steeple-top, and polar whale, they are closely related to the right whales, the bowhead whale looks quite different. It is in a different genus to the other right whales (so is a more distant relation.

The only whale that is endemic to the Arctic and sub-arctic, its mouth is a third of the size of the body. They are incredible long lived often living to 200 years old. They have incredibly thick skulls, which allows them to use their heads to break through the arctic ice.

Unfortunately, they were an early target of whalers, and so in 1966 hunting of them was banned. They have recovered to the point where out of the 5 subpopulations, 3 are endangered, one is vulnerable and the last one currently classed as low risk. Another unfortunate effect of whaling, was to put an end to the summer habits of the bowhead whale – before whaling, it appears that different whale populations would cross seas during the summer, and interbreed.

  1. The Western Arctic stock in the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas estimated at 12,500 (though with 95% confidence range 8000-19500         
  2. The Hudson Bay and Foxe Basin stock estimated at 345 with a high confidence
  3. the Baffin Bay and Davis Strait stock which is estimated at over 1000 individuals
  4. the Sea of Okhotsk stock contains only 100-200
  5.  The Svalbard-Barents Sea stock was hunted to near extinction. As such while I cannot find a number, it is unlikely to have a large population

Polar Bear

Polar bear

  • A relatively new species of bear, the polar bear is the only species adapted for polar life. Still being found all around the Arctic, there are roughly 26,000 in the wild at the current time. Whalers and for traders killed many in the 19th century, and while they have recovered experts predict that global warming is likely to lead to the extinction of the polar bear.

Polar bears are distant cousins of the Grizzly bear, and as the weather warms, polar bears are moving south and Grizzlies north. This has on at least one occasion created a so called “Pizzly”. We only know about this, because a hunter who paid to kill a polar bear accidentally shot the Pizzly. I have made it clear my lack of appreciation for the so called hunter – while I am ready to admit that in places the money is useful for conservation, I hope that with your help and this website, we might make it an irrelevance.

Found throughout the arctic, they can be seen in 

  • Alaska (USA) 4000-7000
  • Canada¬† ¬†16,000
  • Greenland 3500-4000
  • Norwegian islands, particularly Svalbard about 3000
  • Russia:22,000-31,000 (note, this adds up to far to many – indeed Russias population alone is above the world population, also some are shared between countries)

Over time we hope to list many places where you can visit bears and see them in their wild home, these will appear here, and a list of posts we have published on bears will appear below these links

Dog family tree

The Dog (caninae) family tree

The arctic wolf is a subspecies of the grey wolf found native to the High Arctic tundra of Canada's Queen Elizabeth Islands, from Melville Island to Ellesmere Island.

The Dogs also form an incredibly successful family. They have spread to even more so more of the earths surface has a dog living in each area. They has been classified into 2 tribes.

The first tribe is the tribe Canini (true dogs), which is further split into two subtribes. Each sub tribe is in turn split into a number of Genus, which have a number of species each

The first subtribe is Canina which is wolf like Canids, this is in term split into 4 genus which I will take in turn

Canis

First genus  is Canis, which is subdivided into 6 species 2 of which have into subspecies.

The second genus is Cuon and only has one member in it. This is found in central south and south east Asia.

The next genus is Lupulella, and has two members, both found in Africa

The last Genus in Canis is Lycaon. This only has one member, which is the African wild dog

The second subtribe is Cerdocyonina (south American Dogs). There are 5 genus with living members (South American dogs), with the 6th (Dusicyon) containing 2 extinct species Рso we will not mention this agai .

Of the 5 genus with living members, Lycalopex is one of these genus with 6 species. Lycalopex is made up of South American fox species – it should be noted that these so called South American foxes are not foxes. While they look like foxes, they are more closely related to Jackals and wolves.

The other 4 Genus in this subtribe, with living members each only have one member, so I will deal with these Genus in one go. These Genus are  Atelocynus, Cerdocyon, Chrysocyon and Speothos. In the same order, the species that inhabit each of these genus are Short eared-dog, Crab eating fox, Manned wolf and the Bush dog.

Then there is a tribe called Vulpina, sub divided into 3 Genus. these are essentially the fox like canines

  • The Nyctereutes which consist of the Racoon dogs: the common raccoon dog and the Japanese racoon dog.
  • The Otocyon which consists of the bat eared fox
  • The Vulpes: Which I will deal with in the next section, separately (below

The true fox family is a large extended family of foxes from around the world. They all behave in a similar way, though the habitat in which they live can be very differemt

Finally there is a Genus on its own called Urocyon which consists of grey foxes, of which there ae only 2 surviving members.

Arctic fox

Arctic fox

The Arctic fox is a white fox which lives throughout the Arctic region, and is common throughout the Arctic biome. Other names include white fox, polar fox or snow fox.

It is a similar size to other foxes, although generally more rounded, so as to loose as little weight as possible.

The Arctic fox preys on many small creatures such as lemmings, voles, ringed seal pups, fish, waterfowl, and seabirds. It also eats carrion, berries, seaweed, and insects and other small invertebrates.

Natural predators of the Arctic fox are golden eagles, Arctic wolves, polar bears, wolverines, red foxes, and grizzly bears. Having said this, they are also keen scavengers and seem to get alarmingly close to these animals on relatively regular occasions. in places where they occur, rodents such as lemmings can form a large part of an arctic fox families diet. In areas where their range overlaps with red foxes, they often build bigger dens with more exits, so as to be able to escape. One of the issues with reduced snow cover, is the fact that red foxes can seize range formerly used by Arctic foxes.

During much of the year, there is as much as a 90-100 degree difference between the internal temperature of the fox and the air temperature. When inactive, they will curl up into a ball, tucking in all extremities to preserve heat as much as possible.

Primarily monogamous, a pair of arctic foxes are required in order to raise their cubs. In areas where predation is higher, arctic foxes change their behaviour. Here they are often far more promiscuous, possibly so that there are more adults who think the young is theirs and therefore more help for protection, should one of the true parents get killed.

They are the only fox with fur on their feet, so as to avoid even more heat loss. It appears to have originated out of foxes from the Tibetan Plateau.

There are 4 recognized subspecies (beyond the common one)

 

    • Bering¬†Islands Arctic fox,¬†V. l. beringensis

    • Greenland Arctic fox,¬†V. l. foragoapusis

    • Iceland Arctic fox,¬†V. l. fuliginosus

    • Pribilof Islands¬†Arctic fox,¬†V. l. pribilofensis

aaa Reindeer migration

Reindeer migration

Reindeer migration essentially allows the reindeer to take advantage of seasonally available food. Typically reindeer are in the habit of migrating seasonally. They are on the move at all times, spending the late spring and summer on the arctic tundra or coast and moving inland to the boreal forests of the taiga for the winter.

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