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Mozquitoo: Top 10 Most Arctic Animals

Monday, November 7, 2011

Top 10 Most Arctic Animals

1/Arctic Fox

The arctic fox is an incredibly hardy animal that can survive frigid Arctic temperatures as low as –58°F in the treeless lands where it makes its home. It has furry soles, short ears, and a short muzzle—all-important adaptations to the chilly clime. Arctic foxes live in burrows, and in a blizzard they may tunnel into the snow to create shelter.
Arctic foxes have beautiful white (sometimes blue-gray) coats that act as very effective winter camouflage. The natural hues allow the animal to blend into the tundra’s ubiquitous snow and ice. When the seasons change, the fox’s coat turns as well, adopting a brown or gray appearance that provides cover among the summer tundra’s rocks and plants.The arctic fox mates between February and June. The female builds a new den and gives birth to between six to twelve dark furred kits. Both the female and the male will take care of the young kits. The male will guard the den and bring food to the den for the mother and the kits. The kits are weaned when they are between two to four weeks old and then they will start to leave the den.

2/Beluga Whale

The beluga whale is a small, toothed whale that is white as an adult. The beluga’s body is stout and has a small, blunt head with a small beak, tiny eyes, thick layers of blubber, and a rounded melon. They have one blowhole. The beluga is also called the white whale, the white porpoise, the sea canary (because of its songs), and the squid hound (due to its diet). Unlike most other cetaceans, the beluga’s seven neck vertebrae are not fused, giving it a flexible, well-defined neck.These whales are common in the Arctic Ocean’s coastal waters, though they are found in subarctic waters as well. Arctic belugas migrate southward in large herds when the sea freezes over. Animals trapped by Arctic ice often die, and they are prey for polar bears, killer whales, and for Arctic people. They are hunted by indigenous people of the north, and by commercial fisheries that brought some populations, such as those in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, to near collapse.

3/Orcinus orca

Orcas, or killer whales, are the largest of the dolphins and one of the world’s most powerful predators. They feast on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and even whales, employing teeth that can be four inches (ten centimeters) long. They are known to grab seals right off the ice. They also eat fish, squid, and seabirds.Killer whales hunt varied prey; however, different populations/species tend to specialize and some can have a dramatic impact on certain preyed species.For example, some populations in the Norwegian and Greenland sea specialize in herring and follow that fish’s autumnal migration to the Norwegian coast. Other populations prey on seals. Salmon account for 96% of northeast Pacific residents’ diet. 65% of them are large, fatty Chinook.Chum salmon are also eaten, but smaller sockeye and pink salmon are not a significant food item.Whales make a wide variety of communicative sounds, and each pod has distinctive noises that its members will recognize even at a distance. They use echolocation to communicate and hunt, making sounds that travel underwater until they encounter objects, then bounce back, revealing their location, size, and shape.


The narwhal is the unicorn of the sea, a pale-colored porpoise found in Arctic coastal waters and rivers. These legendary animals have two teeth.The name Narwhal means “corpse whale” because it often swims belly up, laying motionless for several minutes. Narwhals usually take their time going places, slowly breathing and rolling, but when chased, they are remarkably quick. Sometimes they travel in small family groups, in these groups they communicate by means of a great variety of squeals, trills, whistles, and clicks. If you were in the middle of a pod you would find out that the sound is deafening.Narwhals are related to bottlenose dolphins, belugas, harbor porpoises, and orcas. Like some other porpoises, they travel in groups and feed on fish, shrimp, squid, and other aquatic fare. They eat fish like codand halibut, but have been known to prey on baby seals when food is limited.

5/Spotted Seals

The spotted seal, Phoca largha, sometimes called the larga seal, lives on the ice and along the coasts of the north Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. It is a medium-sized seal and has a gray or silvery gray coat, and the adults are spotted. They have no external ears, only ear openings, and they have dog-like snouts. It is their blubber more so than their fur that keeps them warm in the icy seas. They are hunted on a subsistence basis by native tribes, who make use of the seal’s meat, blubber and fur. They are not currently considered endangered, but climate change will likely impact them, as the ice floes they use to rest on are rapidly shrinking.The spotted seal has a relatively small body and short flippers extending behind the body that providethrust, while the small flippers in front act as rudders. The dense fur varies in color from silver to gray and white and is characterized by dark, irregular spots against the lighter background and covering the entire body.

6/Harp Seals

Harp Seals are probably best known in their pup form; the white, fluffy, adorable little guys that seems highly represented in the children’s plush toy market. Harp Seals are found in the Arctic Waters, where they live on park ice and migrate up to 2,500km each year between breeding grounds and summering areas. Harp seals spend relatively little time on land and prefer to swim in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. These sleek swimmers cruise the chilly waters and feed on fish and crustaceans. They can remain submerged for up to 15 minutes. Harp seals are sometimes called saddleback seals because of the dark, saddlelike marking on the back and sides of their light yellow or gray bodies.The fluffy white coats of newborn Harp Seals as made them very desirable. Harp Seals are one of the most commercially important of all the Seals, and though the hunts are now regulated in most areas, hundreds of thousands of Harp Seals are killed each year.

7/Ringed Seals

Ringed seals are small seals living in the northern hemisphere. They are especially adapted to live and breed in the arctic ice, building ice caves above their breathing holes to protect the pups from predators such as polar bears.Ringed seals are adapted to living on stable arctic sea ice. Being small they can construct lairs under the snow above their breathing holes and give birth inside them. Adults often stay in the same area year round, hauling out onto ice or rarely, land, where they are always wary of predators.The only time these largely solitary creatures come together is when they gather on sea ice to breed, molt, and rest, sticking close to breathing holes and cracks in the ice in case they need to make a quick escape. They build lairs—a kind of snow cave—as soon as enough snow accumulates, becoming very territorial about them and the breathing holes and underwater areas beneath them.


The walrus is a large marine mammal that has flippers to help it swim. The walrus is found in the colder waters of the Northern Hemisphere, but the walrus is much more adapted specifically to the conditions of the Arctic Circle. There are three species of walrus. The Atlantic walrus, the Pacific walrus and the Laptev walrus found in the Laptev Sea. The walrus is most closely related to the seal and although the walrus and the seal are obviously similar, the walrus has some distinctive features such as the large tusks on the face of the walrus.Walruses use their iconic long tusks for a variety of reasons, each of which makes their lives in the Arctic a bit easier. They use them to haul their enormous bodies out of frigid waters, thus their “tooth-walking” label, and to break breathing holes into ice from below. Their tusks, which are found on both males and females, can extend to about three feet (one meter), and are, in fact, large canine teeth, which grow throughout their lives.

9/Polar Bears

Polar Bears are large, meat-eating bears who are well-adapted for life in their frozen Arctic environment. They are powerful swimmers who hunt seals in the water. Polar bears can run in bursts up to 25 mph (40 kph).Polar bears live in one of the planet’s coldest environments and depend on a thick coat of insulated fur, which covers a warming layer of fat. Fur even grows on the bottom of their paws, which protects against cold surfaces and provides a good grip on ice. The bear’s stark white coat provides camouflage in surrounding snow and ice. But under their fur, polar bears have black skin—the better to soak in the sun’s warming rays.Polar bears are attractive and appealing, but they are powerful predators that do not typically fear humans, which can make them dangerous. Near human settlements, they often acquire a taste for garbage, bringing bears and humans into perilous proximity.

10/Arctic tern

The Arctic Tern is slightly smaller than the Common Tern with long, narrow wings and very short legs. In breeding plumage, the Arctic Tern has a light gray mantle and belly. The lower half of the face is white, and the upper sports a black cap without a crest. The tail is white, and usually projects beyond the wingtips when the bird is perched. The bill and legs are red. The adult does not show the black ‘wedge’ in the outer flight feathers that is present on Common Terns, and instead shows a thin, black border on the trailing edge of the primaries, visible from below. They are remarkable for their social habits. They live together in groups of about 50 tern which are called colonies. Sometimes they will adopt to their colony different species of terns and sea gulls.The Arctic tern eats mostly small fish, and to a lesser degree, small invertebrates, like insects, shrimp, and krill. The tern swoops down into the water to catch its prey.

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