Animals and Lands -
waters of the North are teeming with animal life. Nowhere
else in the world will you find an ocean filled with the variety
and number of mammals that call the Arctic home. Here you
will meet the elusive unicorn of the deep, the Narwhal. You
will glimpse the awesome majesty of the polar bear. These
are once-in-a-lifetime encounters.
the most traditionally important marine mammals to the Inuit
is the seal. The ringed seal has made an indelible mark on
these resourceful people. Besides being a main staple in the
diet, the seal has also provided skin for clothing and dog
harnesses and blubber for lamps.
on land but graceful in the water, the whiskered walrus was
hunted traditionally for its precious ivory tusks. These giant
mammals can be found packed tightly on ice floes in the shallow
water that allows them easy access to clams on the sea floor.
number of whales frequent the waters here, although there
are only three different species that can be truly called
Arctic whales. Arctic whales include the ghostly white Beluga,
the single-tusked Narwhal and the giant Bowhead Whale, which
weighs in at nearly 100 tonnes. Killer Whales (Orcas) are
also seen in the area in the summer months, along with Sperm
Whales and the world's largest living mammals, Blue Whales.
Not surprisingly, one of the most popular activities in the
North is whale watching.
"world's largest" draws visitors by the thousands
to Nunavut. As the world's largest land carnivore, the Polar
Bear spends most of its time on sea ice and in the water hunting
ringed seals. Many would feel a trip to Nunavut is not complete
until a Polar Bear has been sighted. Once you see one yourself
for the first time, you'll understand why.
Mammal Populations in Inns North Communities:
~ Distinguished by long, drooping whiskers, the Bearded Seal
is unique among Nunavut's seals. The Bearded Seal is a bottom
feeder and feeds on crustaceans, mollusks, worms, hermit crabs,
and clams. Found in:
Beluga Whale ~ These small
toothed white whales reach about four to five metres in length,
and are found throughout Nunavut. Beluga Whales winter in areas
of open water or shifting ice, moving northward in the spring.
Bowhead Whale ~ This baleen
whale with its large head is also known as a Right Whale. The
Bowhead Whale is the giant among Arctic whales, reaching 18
metres long and weighing 100 tonnes. Found in:
Harbour Seal ~ Known also
as the common seal, the Harbour Seal is usually grey with dark
blotches. Found in:
~ Harp Seals are distinguished by the black, harp-shaped saddle
on their backs. About 500,000 Harp Seals are found in the summer
in Nunavut. They migrate north when the sea ice finally yields
in spring. Found in:
~ Native to the Arctic seas, the Narwhal is called the "unicorn
of the sea". It is mottled brown, averages four metres
in length and weighs nearly two tonnes. The male Narwhal' s
left tooth forms a straight ivory tusk. Found in:
(see also Bowhead and Beluga Whales) ~ Also known as
the Killer Whale, the Orca has distinctive black and white markings.
It can reach 10 metres in length. Found in:
~The white Polar Bear is native to the Arctic ice pack and surrounding
seas. Polar Bears are excellent swimmers and spend most of their
lives on the sea ice and in the water. They
are the world's largest carnivores, Found in:
Seal gets its name from its irregular, light-colored rings
with dark centres. Inuit have long relied on this seal. The
Ringed Seal is the smallest and most common marine mammal
in the territory. Found in:
(see also Bearded Seal, Harp Seal and Harbour Seal) ~ The
seal is a marine mammal that has short fur and a thick layer
of blubber. There are 19 different species of seal in the world.
~ The walrus is a marine mammal reaching 3.5 metres in length
and weighing 1,400 kilograms. Found in:
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