Arctic animals: 30 species of arctic birds, mammals and whales Travel


Arctic tern by adriankirby from Pixabay
Arctic tern by adriankirby from Pixabay


Latin name: Sterna paradisea
Habitat: Arctic and subarctic areas in North America, Asia and Europe
Size: Length 11 to 15.3 inches; Weight 3.2 to 4.2 ounces
Diet: Fish, crustaceans
Conservation status: Smallest concern

Other tern facts: Although it is one of the most frequently seen birds in the Arctic, the Arctic terns are characterized by the fact that they consider the record the longest migration of a bird. They travel around 40,000 km each year and fly all the way from the Arctic Antarctic,

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Horned Puffin in Alaska (Glacier Bay National Park)
Horned Puffin in Bret Love’s Glacier Bay National Park


Latin name: Fratercula arctica
Habitat: North Atlantic coast during the breeding season, otherwise open ocean
Size: Length 10.2 to 11.4 inches; Weight 10.9 to 19.4 ounces
Diet: Fish, crustaceans, molluscs
Conservation status: Endangered, population is falling

Other facts about puffins: The puffin with its large, colorful snout and its special stature is known as the “clown of the sea”. It is also the official bird of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. As they breed on land, they spend most of the year exploring the open sea, diving for fish, and eating other small marine life.

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Bald Eagle in Alaska, Kenai National Park
Bald Eagle in Alaska, Kenai National Park by Bret Love


Latin name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Habitat: Wetlands, coasts and swamps in North America
Size: Length 28 to 40 in; Weight 6.6 to 14 pounds
Diet: Fish, water birds, small mammals
Conservation status: Least worry, growing population

Further facts about the bald eagle: These majestic birds of prey, known as the United States’ national bird, can be found throughout North America. Contrary to its name, the bald eagle is not really bald. The feathers on the top of her head only change from brown to white when they reach sexual maturity.

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Ptarmigan Churchill Manitoba
Ptarmigan in Churchill, Manitoba Canada by Bret Love


Latin name: Lagopus muta
Habitat: Arctic and alpine tundra
Size: Length 12.6 to 15.8 inches; Weight 1 to 1.4 pounds
Diet: Seeds, buds, leaves
Conservation status: Smallest concern

Other Rock Ptarmigan Facts: These arctic tundra birds nest in the northernmost part of the world, where the climate can be extremely cold. To counteract freezing temperatures, their feet are covered with feathers that help them maintain their body heat. They also have a distinctive camouflage and turn from white to a spotty brown for summer in winter.

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Snowy Owl Churchill Manitoba
Snowy Owl in Churchill Manitoba Canada by Bret Love


Latin name: Bubo scandiacus
Habitat: Arctic tundra in Eurasia and North America
Size: Length 20.5 to 27.9 inches; Weight 3.5 to 5.6 pounds
Diet: Lemmings, ptarmigan, waterfowl, small rodents
Conservation status: Vulnerable, population decline

Other Snowy Owl facts: As one of the most famous birds in the Arctic, the snowy owl became known as Harry Potter’s birthday gift from Hagrid. They are relatively easy to spot because, unlike most nocturnal owls, Snowy Owls are active during the day, meaning that they are active and hunt during the day.

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Steller's Eider
Steller’s Eider from Ron Knight CC 2.0


Latin name: Polysticta stelleri
Habitat: Arctic tundra near ponds and lagoons
Size: Length 16.9 to 17.7 inches; Weight 1.8 to 1.9 pounds
Diet: Insect larvae, aquatic plants, echinoderms
Conservation status: Vulnerable, population decline

Other Steller-Eider facts: Stellers Eider is the smallest and fastest of the Eider. It is referred to by Inupiat Eskimo as “the bird who was sitting around the campfire” because its underside is burned. They tend to travel in large herds in winter and can often be seen diving in unison, creating a spray on the water, and then reappearing together.

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ARCTIC mammals

Arctic Fox by Dclobes from Pixabay
Arctic Fox by Dclobes from Pixabay


Latin name: Vulpes lagopus
Habitat: Arctic and alpine tundra
Size: Height 9.8 to 12 inches; Length 2.3 to 3.6 feet; Weight 3.1 to 21 pounds
Diet: Lemmings, rodents, fish, birds, eggs, algae
Conservation status: Smallest concern

Further facts about the arctic fox: With their short legs and ears, their compact bodies, their small snout and their seasonal camouflage, these adorable tundra animals adapt well to their winter habitat. Their bushy tails keep them warm by wrapping their faces like a blanket. They can occasionally be seen falling on ice to catch small voles and other prey hidden beneath them.

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Arctic Hare Churchill Manitoba
Mountain hare in Churchill, Manitoba by Bret Love


Latin name: Lepus articus
Habitat: North American tundra
Size: Length 17 to 28 inches; Weight 5.5 to 15 pounds
Diet: Mosses, lichens, buds, berries, leaves, roots
Conservation status: Smallest concern

Other Arctic Rabbit Facts: The mountain hare is the main prey for many animals and often uses its speed to run away at a speed of 40 miles per hour. To adapt to their climate, they dig shelters in the snow and huddle to warm themselves. They are also one of the many animals in the Arctic that turn brown in summer and white in winter.

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Polar bear close-up in Churchill, Manitoba
Polar Bear Close-Up in Churchill, Manitoba, by Bret Love u. Mary Gabbett


Latin name: Ursus maritimus
Habitat: Arctic coastal areas
Size: Height 4.4 to 7.9 feet; Length 5.9 to 9.8 feet; Weight 900 to 1,600 pounds
Diet: Seals, whale carcasses, walruses, narwhals
Conservation status: Vulnerable

Other polar bear facts: Are polar bears classified as marine mammals because they spend most of their lives on sea ice and rely on the ocean to feed. Seals are her favorite snacks and are caught with the ice as a hunting stage. They are also very good swimmers and can swim for hours at a speed of up to 10 km / h.

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Reindeer close-up in Finnish Lapland
Reindeer Close-Up In Finnish Lapland By Margherita Ragg


Latin name: Rangifer tarandus
Habitat: Arctic tundra and boreal forests
Size: Height 2.8 to 4.9 feet; Length 5.3 to 7 feet; Weight 180 to 400 pounds
Diet: Lichen, moss, herbs, ferns, grasses
Conservation status: Vulnerable, population decline

More facts about reindeer: Reindeer, also known as Caribou in North America, migrate longer distances than any other land mammal and travel up to 3,100 miles a year. Although their noses aren’t really bright red, they’re ready to save Christmas, they are practical by warming up the cold air they breathe before entering their lungs.

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Gray wolf by christels from Pixabay
Gray wolf by christels from Pixabay


Latin name: wolf
Habitat: Tundra, forests, meadows
Size: Height 2.2 to 2.7 feet; Length 3.9 to 6.6 feet; Weight 51 to 180 pounds
Diet: Deer, elk, bison, elk, beaver, rabbit
Conservation status: Smallest concern

Other Gray Wolf / Timberwolf facts: These apex predators are very social animals. They travel in packs, led by a male and a female alpha, that are monogamous and mate for life. They develop strong bonds with other wolves in the pack and have developed a complex communication system that uses howling, barking and body language.

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Atlantic White-sided Dolphin by Anna[CCBY-SA40[CCBY-SA40[CCBY-SA40[CCBY-SA40
Atlantic White-sided Dolphin by Anna CC BY-SA 4.0


Latin name: Lagenorhynchus actus
Habitat: Temperate and subarctic waters of the North Atlantic
Size: Length 8 to 9.5 feet; Weight 425 to 525 pounds
Diet: Herring, smelt, hake, squid, shrimp
Conservation status: Smallest concern

Other Atlantic White-sided Dolphin facts: These playful dolphins get their name from the white coloring of their belly and the white spot on the sides of their dorsal fin. They are a very social arctic species and travel in pods of up to 60 dolphins. They use echolocation to coordinate hunting attacks and navigate the ocean.

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Beluga whales, photo courtesy of Georgia Aquarium


Latin name: Delphinapterus leucas
Habitat: Arctic and subarctic waters
Size: Length 13 to 20 feet; Weight 2,000 to 3,000 pounds
Diet: Fish, crustaceans, worms
Conservation status: Smallest concern

Other Beluga Whale Facts: Belugas, also known as “white whales”, are some of the most popular animals that live in the Arctic. They are very vocal and use a complex selection of clicks and whistles to communicate with others in their pods. When diving, they can take up to 25 minutes with one breath and reach a depth of 800 meters. You can also swim backwards!

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Bowhead Whale by Olga Shpak CC BY-SA 3.0


Latin name: Balaena mysticetus
Habitat: Arctic and subarctic waters
Size: Length 49 to 59 feet; Weight 220,500 pounds
Diet: Plankton, copepods, Euphausiids
Conservation status: Little worry, population growth

Other facts about Greenland whales: The Bowhead Whale takes its name from the arched upper jaw, which has the shape of an archer’s bow. They are one of the largest species of whale: their head is almost a third of their body length and their tongue weighs 2,000 pounds. They are also the oldest arctic whale species with a lifespan of up to 200 years.

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Fin whale from Aqqa Rosing-Asvid – Visit Greenland CC BY 2.0


Latin name: Balaenoptera physalus
Habitat: Deep water from all major oceans
Size: Length 65 to 80 feet; Weight 260,000 pounds
Diet: Crustaceans, fish, octopus, krill
Conservation status: Vulnerable

Other facts about the fin whale: Fin whales have a slender body with a V-shaped head. Despite their size, they are fast swimmers who travel at speeds of up to 37 km / h. They are more lonely than other whales and tend to travel alone or in small pods. However, during feeding periods they can reach pods of up to 100 members.

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Adult gray whale with calf
Adult gray whale with calf roots tourists by José Eugenio Gómez Rodríguez CC 3.0


Latin name: Eschrichtius robustus
Habitat: Shallow coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean
Size: Length 40 to 50 feet; Weight 60,000 to 80,000 pounds
Diet: Shrimp, krill, small fish
Conservation status: Smallest concern

Other gray whale facts: Gray whales were almost at risk of extinction in the 17th to 20th centuries Protected specieswith laws against hunting. They move for long periods and stay close to the coast, which makes them a spectacle for many whale watching trips. Known to be curious, they also tend to approach small boats.

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minke whale
Minke Whale, Cap-de-Bon-Désir, Les Bergeronnes, Quebec, Canada from Cephas CC BY-SA 3.0

minke whale

Latin name: Balaenoptera acutorostrata
Habitat: Northern Pacific
Size: Length 26 to 31 feet; Weight 20,000 pounds
Diet: Krill, crustaceans, plankton, small fish
Conservation status: Smallest concern

Other facts about the minke whale: Mink are the smallest baleen whales, but they can make vocalizations as loud as taking off a jet! Mink are loners and tend to hunt alone, but can reach speeds of up to 40 km / h. Unfortunately, they are known to be quite smelly and are nicknamed “stinky mink”.

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Humpback Whale
Humpback whale by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett


Latin name: Megaptera novaeangliae
Habitat: All large oceans (with the exception of the Arctic Ocean) in open and shallow coastal waters
Size: Length 48 to 62.5 feet; Weight 80,000 pounds
Diet: Krill, plankton, small fish
Conservation status: Little worry, population growth

Humpback Whale Facts: Humpback whales take their name from the shape of their dorsal fin and the way they move their backs when diving. Similar to a fingerprint, each humpback whale’s tail is different. They are also known for their complex songs that can last for hours.

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Long-finned pilot whale spyhopping in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
Longfin pilot whale spyhopping in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, by Barney Moss CC BY 2.0


Latin name: Globicephala melas
Habitat: North Atlantic and temperate, cold water of the southern hemisphere
Size: Length 19 to 25 feet; Weight 2,900 to 5,000 pounds
Diet: Fish, cephalopods, crustaceans
Conservation status: Smallest concern

Other facts about pilot whales with long fins: Despite their name, these arctic marine animals actually belong to the dolphin family. They develop strong bonds and often live in the same capsule all their lives. Your pods can reach hundreds of members, and in some cases more than 1,000.

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Orcas in Alaska (Kenai National Park)
Orca in Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park, by Bret Love


Latin name: Orcinus orca
Habitat: All the great oceans
Size: Length 23 to 32 feet; Weight 12,000 pounds
Diet: Fish, penguins, seals, sea lions, whales
Conservation status: Bad data

Other Orca facts: Given the misnomer “killer whale” by seafarers who saw them attacking larger marine mammals, orcas are actually the largest species of dolphin. They are highly intelligent and can swim at a speed of 48 km / h. Orcas hunt in packs and have different ones unique hunting tactics for catching their prey.

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A pod of narwhals.
A pod of narwhals, from Dr. Kristin Laidre from the Polar Science Center, UW NOAA / OAR / OER [Public domain]


Latin name: Monodon monoceros
Habitat: Arctic seas
Size: Length 13 to 20 feet; Weight 3,000 pounds
Diet: Squid, shrimp, flounder, crab
Conservation status: Smallest concern

Other narwhal facts: Male narwhals, known as the “unicorn of the sea,” have a tooth that grows through their upper lip into a spiral tusk that is up to 10 feet high. The reason for the tusk is unknown, but scientists believe that it is used for communication and / or mating rituals. These unique arctic creatures travel in groups of 15 to 20 people, but hundreds have been discovered.

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bearded seal
Bearded seal by Michael Haferkamp, CC BY-SA 2.0 de


Latin name: Erignathus barbatus
Habitat: Arctic and subarctic waters
Size: Length 6.5 to 7 feet; Weight 400 to 700 pounds
Diet: Shrimps, mussels, crabs, withers
Conservation status: Smallest concern

Other Facts About Bearded Seals: Bearded seals get their name from their long, thick whiskers. They are the largest seals in the Arctic, but they are solitary animals that tend to stay on their own. Male bearded seals are quite loud and can be heard from a distance of almost 21 kilometers! This vocalization is believed to be used to establish territory and attract a partner.

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Greenland shark from NOAA Okeanos Explorer program via public domain


Latin name: Somniosus microcephalus
Habitat: Deep arctic and subarctic waters
Size: Length 8 to 21 feet; Weight 2,200 pounds
Diet: Fish, eel, herring, capelin, cod
Conservation status: Almost threatened

Other facts about Greenland sharks: The Greenland is the largest arctic fish and the longest vertebrate on earth. Your meat contains a high amount of trimethylamine oxide, which can cause terrible symptoms or even death when ingested. The early Viking settlers discovered that meat can be eaten when it is prepared by burying it in the ground for weeks and hanging it to dry for months.

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Harp Seal, Mother & Pup by Visit Greenland
Seal, mother & puppy, photo by Visit Greenland CC BY 2.0


Latin name: Pagophilus groenlandicus
Habitat: North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans
Size: Length 5.25 to 6.25 feet; Weight 400 pounds
Diet: Fish, crustaceans
Conservation status: Least worry, population growth

Other Harp Seal facts: Seals breed on land, but spend most of their lives at sea. They are agile swimmers who can dive for 15 minutes and stay under water. They are extremely social animals who love to travel and hunt in large pods, from dozens to hundreds of members.

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Researcher with a baby seal with a hood on ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Researchers with baby seals, from NOAA Fisheries via public domain


Latin name: Cystophora cristata
Habitat: North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans
Size: Length 6.5 to 8.5 feet; Weight 320 to 776 pounds
Diet: Crustaceans, krill, fish, squid
Conservation status: Vulnerable

Other facts about Hooded Seal: Hooded Seals take their name from the inflatable hood on the man’s head, which is used to show aggression and attract partners. They are loners and only gather with other seals to mate. They are often territorial and can be quite aggressive in self-defense.

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Ribbon Seal
Rare ribbon seal of an adult male. Russia, Gulf of Ozernoy.


Latin name: Histriophoca fasciata
Habitat: Arctic and subarctic regions of the North Pacific
Size: Length 5 to 6 feet; Weight 200 to 330 pounds
Diet: Shrimp, cephalopods, fish
Conservation status: Smallest concern

Ribbon Seal Facts: It owes its name to the stripe pattern of light and dark colors that surrounds her body. This is one of the most distinctive animals in the Arctic. Unlike other Arctic seals, which move by pulling both front fins in sync, the band seals move their front fins one by one while moving their head and hips from side to side.

Ringed seal Pusa hispida hispida
Ringed seal from NOAA Fisheries Plans Western Alaska Meetings, public domain


Latin name: Pusa hispida
Habitat: Arctic and North Pacific
Size: Length 4 to 5 feet; Weight 110 to 150 pounds
Diet: Shrimps, Mysids, Cod, Crustaceans
Conservation status: Smallest concern

Other ringed seal facts: The ringed seal is the smallest seal species, but it has the largest population. They spend most of their time near the coast, but can dive almost 300 feet deep for up to 45 minutes. To ensure that no hungry polar bears are waiting to eat them, these seals often blow bubbles to their breathing holes before they appear.

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Alaska sea otters (Kenai National Park)
Sea otters in the Kenai Fjords National Park of Bret Love Alaska


Latin name: Enhydra lutris
Habitat: Coasts of the Pacific Ocean in North America and Asia
Size: Length 3.3 to 4.9 feet; Weight 31 to 99 pounds
Diet: Mussels, mussels, sea urchins, snails
Conservation status: Endangered population decline

Other Sea Otter facts: These adorable but endangered animals in the Arctic are a key species that helps control the populations of sea urchins that would otherwise be harmful to the environment. They use stones to open their shell prey and then hover on their backs to eat while using their breasts as a table. Sea otters are also known to sleep while holding their paws so as not to drift away!

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Spotted seal
Spotted Seal-Phoca largha, Bering Sea, Alaska over jomilo75 about cc-by-2.0

Soiled seal

Latin name: Phoca largha
Habitat: Arctic and subarctic waters close in the North Pacific
Size: Length 4.5 to 5.5 feet; Weight 140 to 250 pounds
Diet: Krill, crustaceans, fish
Conservation status: Smallest concern

More facts about dotted seals: Spotted seals are difficult to spot because they tend to dive into the water when they see a potential threat. They are monogamous and breed on ice, but spend the rest of their time at sea. Spotted seal pups are all born white and get their spots when they become sexually mature.

Bull walrus and cow on ice
Bull walrus and cow on ice, photo by Skeeze via Pixabay


Latin name: Odobenus rosmarus
Habitat: Northern polar circle
Size: Length 7.25 to 11.5 feet; Weight 3,000 pounds
Diet: Mollusks, worms, crustaceans, shellfish
Conservation status: Vulnerable

Other walrus facts: These massive animals of the Arctic Circle are famous for their striking whiskers and long tusks. Their mustaches are used to spot shells on the sea floor, while their tusks can poke holes in ice to lift them out of the water. They are very social and are often connected in large groups known as herds. They like to roar and grunt with their walrus mates, but can become aggressive during the mating season. – By Christina Maggitas

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