Arctic Wildlife

Each Arctic itinerary offers unique wildlife spotting opportunities
To see a polar bear in the wild, the Arctic’s apex predator, is without a question a life-list must for many. The Land of the Ice Bear: An In-depth Exploration of Arctic Svalbard is an expedition into the sea ice where polar bears are most plentiful, as is their prey: walrus. Also, search for Arctic foxes, reindeer, bearded and ringed seals, and look for whales under the midnight sun. Norway’s Fjords and Arctic Svalbard offers these same wildlife opportunities, as well as an exploration of Norway’s fabled coastline and picturesque northern villages.

If you choose to embark on A Circumnavigation of Iceland, you’ll sail through massive shoals of herring that are a boon to aggregations of seabirds. See waders, wildfowl, and many more, plus our eagle-eyed naturalists will keep an eye out for cetaceans. And on Iceland by Land & Sea you’ll discover remote, wild reserves along the country’s wild west coast with spectacular landscapes and massive populations of riotous seabirds.

During Svalbard, Iceland & Greenland’s East Coast we see magnificent, iconic wildlife in three quintessential Arctic locations. See polar bears hunting along the sea ice in Svalbard, ringed seals, Arctic foxes, plus many of the 60 species of birds that breed in Greenland. Whales—bowhead and beluga—frequent these waters, and there’s a chance we’ll see these elusive species, plus blue, and sperm whales. As we venture to even more extreme latitudes on Epic 80°N itinerary we’ll add muskox and perhaps even the rarely-seen narwhal to our wildlife list. And as we sail through intriguing Nordic history on Iceland & Greenland: Viking Legends and Wild Fjords, you’ll feel the stir of your inner Viking, as we search for seals, which have played such a key role in the life of the Inuit we’ll meet along our voyage, and we may spot polar bears in King Oscar Fjord, arctic fox, white-tailed eagles, some of the 60 species of birds here, and humpback whales. 

Explore the undersea wildlife—discover the unexpected, too
In the Arctic National Geographic Explorer and Orion sail with an ROV and an undersea specialist, too. From the comfort of the lounge, you’ll watch video shot during your day’s adventures—a privileged glimpse into the planet’s benthic regions few, if any, have seen. We’ve discovered previously unknown cold-water corals in the fjords of Norway, and strange camouflaged fish lurking on the seafloor.

The lovely arctic tern and other birds
If our polar ships shared an animal spirit guide, it would be the arctic tern, which ranges like Explorer and Orion, from the northern Arctic summer to the southern Antarctic summer. In addition to the terns, the species list kept by our naturalists records the following species sighted on last season’s Svalbard voyages alone: barnacle goose, common eider, northern fulmar, purple sandpiper, great phalarope (red), arctic skua, great skua, glaucous gull, black-legged kittiwake, ivory gull, Brunnich’s guillemot, little auk, and snow bunting. We look forward to adding extensively to this list in Greenland, Iceland, and the Canadian Arctic.

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