August 2015 - Arctic Kingdom Polar Expeditions

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What is the plural of walrus?

August 23rd, 2015 | By | Filed in Uncategorized

Walrus and PupThe plural of walrus is walruses or walrus. Either is acceptable, although walruses appears to be the more common use. The word was first referenced in 1728. Despite the “us” ending, the origin is Dutch or Norwegian, not Latin.

Walrus, A keystone species

Take a guess at the favourite month of a walrus. Given their mustached appearance, it’s safe to assume it’s Movember! Aside from their bristly appearance, walruses are also part of the exclusive club of animals that have tusks. They are considered a ‘keystone species’ in the Arctic marine regions, meaning they play a critical role in maintaining the structure of the ecosystem.

Walruses are an extremely social animal and are typically observed near the Arctic Circle lying on the ice and congregating with their many companions. Adult walruses are distinguished not only by their elongated canines but also their blubbery body and their prominent whiskers. Walruses like to bellow and snort and can also turn aggressive during mating season, using their tusks in self defense and to demonstrate dominance. As expected, the bigger the tusks, the more dominant the male. The male with the largest tusks is typically the leader of social groups and holds the most power.

Because walruses have limited diving abilities, it means that they depend on shallow water and ice floes to access their food supply. Their tusks are also practical when forming holes in the Arctic ice, acting as an aid to help walruses haul out of the water.

The Arctic air is frigid and the water is just as chilling but luckily for walruses, they are insulated from the cold because of the blubber stored beneath their skin. Walruses are also capable of slowing down their heartbeats in order to endure the temperature, thus allowing them to live comfortably and continue to be a prevalent presence in the Arctic.

Quick Stats:

  • Walruses live 20- 30 years in the wild
  • Orcas and polar bears are the walrus’ only two natural predators
  • Tusks are present in both male and female walruses and can reach a length of over three feet
  • Males can weigh up to 3700 lbs while females can weigh up to 2700 lbs
  • The walrus population was severely reduced due to hunting but has since rebounded -The worldwide walrus population is roughly 250,000

Check Them Out!

Interested in checking out the walruses? Arctic Kingdom offers various trips that allow you to see these stunning creatures including: Kings of the Arctic where you can observe walruses sunning themselves on ice floes!

Author: Mandy Ams

Discovery Day – Yukon – August 17, 2015

August 17th, 2015 | By | Filed in Featured Trip

Unlike other parts of Canada that celebrate their civic holiday on the first Monday in August, Yukon’s Discovery Day is on the third Monday in August, falling on August 17, 2015 this year. Discovery Day is a public holiday commemorating the anniversary of the discovery of gold in Bonanza Creek in the 19th century.

Discovery Day activities are held throughout the territory in places such as Watson Lake and Dawson City. Watson Lake is known as the ‘gateway to Yukon recreation’ while Dawson City is considered the heart of the Klondike gold rush. Discovery Day serves as the main theme behind various events, such as family days, fun runs, golf tournaments and festivals while Dawson City plays host to historical street theatre.

The history of Yukon’s Discovery Day can be traced back to George Carmack, Dawson Charlie and Skookum Jim discovering gold at Bonanza Creek on August 17, 1896. This discovery triggered a gold rush in North America with nearly 100,000 would-be prospectors visiting the Klondike region in the following years. However, due to companies using mechanical mining techniques in the early 20th century, many miners were replaced and out of work. By 1903, when the gold rush ended, nearly 95 million dollars had been extracted from Yukon’s rivers.

After the gold rush concluded, the Yukon Order of Pioneers persuaded Yukon’s Territorial Council to celebrate Discovery Day as a public holiday in 1911. In 1912, Discovery Day was a big event that was celebrated with many activities like parades, speeches, a football game and a dance.

Dawson City, Yukon, Today

Today, Dawson City is a lively place boasting many heritage sites and attractions. Still evident in this authentic frontier town are the days of perseverance, heartache and dreams coming true during the legendary Klondike Gold Rush.

To learn more about the gold rush, Yukon’s Discovery Day and if there’s a chance that you could strike it rich today, visit Travel Yukon.

Ice Grizzlies of the Yukon
is available as a custom adventure.

Snowy Owls: Harry Potter’s Owl

August 15th, 2015 | By | Filed in Uncategorized, Wildlife

snowy owl and Arctic fox
Native to the Arctic region in North America and Eurasia, Snowy Owls have thick plumage, heavily-feathered, taloned feet and light colouration making them well-adapted for life in the chilly Arctic. Although Snowy Owls are thought to be completely white to blend into their surroundings, it is actually the males that are white while females and young owls have more flecks of grey.

Snowy Owls are opportunistic hunters

Snowy owls are classified as opportunistic hunters. Based on the climate, their prey may vary considerably, feeding on just about anything they can get their talons from deer mice to muskrats. Unlike most owls, Harry Potter’s owl is diurnal, using daylight and dark nights to search for prey. Their keen eyesight and excellent hearing serves as an asset since they are able to identify their kill beneath the snow and vegetation. The Snowy Owls’ tactic is a patient ‘sit and wait’ approach in contrast to predators that seek and follow their prey until the ideal time to attack. Once their efforts have paid off, like many other birds, these owls will swallow their small prey whole.

Parenting style

Both males and females are very protective of their nests during nesting season. Although Snowy Owls have few predators, the males are constantly on guard while the female incubates the eggs. Approaching predators can expect to be attacked by both sexes. Snowy Owls will dive-bomb in an attempt to distract the unwelcome predator away from their offspring. It is in part because of the Snowy Owls’ protective instincts that they are considered in least concern of becoming an endangered species.

Quick Stats:

  • Snowy owls are one of the largest species of owl and the heaviest in North America
  • Their wingspan is 1.4 to 1.7 meters (4.5 to 5.5 feet)
  • Female snowy owls can lay a clutch of anywhere from 3 to 11 eggs
  • Lifespan in the wild is just over nine years
  • Longest lifespan in captivity is 28 years
  • Check Them Out!

    Interested in checking out Snowy Owls? Arctic Kingdom offers various trips that allow you to see these stunning creatures including: Hiking in the Auyuittuq National Park where you can get a firsthand view of Snowy Owls and their nests during the summer months! [There is no chance of seeing Harry Potter, however.]

    Author: Mandy Ams

International Left-Handers Day – August 13, 2015

August 13th, 2015 | By | Filed in Sports, Trips

Kayaking in the narwhal summer feeding groundsAugust 13, 2015 marks the 22nd Anniversary of International Left-Handers Day. This day is a way to honour all the lefties out there and the everyday struggles they face living in a right-handed world.

Most ordinary products are created and aimed to support right-handed people, as that is the dominant hand of 87% of the world. So what do all the lefties do? Right-handed kayak paddles, for instance, are more common than those geared for left-handed kayakers. Just like a right-handed paddler controls most movements with their right-hand, a left-handed paddler controls most movements with their left. The blades of the paddle are set dependent upon the neutral position of the dominant hand and the paddle would then naturally face the kayaker. The difference is visible in which hand you grip and rotate with.

Kayaking is just one example of the struggles lefties face living in a right-handed world. Paddles and other sports equipment for left-handed athletes aren’t as available as they are for right-handed ones. This results in discomfort and a handicap that has an effect on the athlete enjoying their sport. Though, fortunately enough, there are kayak paddles specifically designed for left-handed enthusiasts, a lot of sports discourage participation and limit the athlete’s ability unless they are right-handed.

Interesting Facts about Lefties:

  • About 13% of the population around the world are left-handed and it is thought to be genetic
  • There is a high tendency in twins for one to be left-handed
  • Stuttering and dyslexia occur more often in left-handers (particularly if they are forced to change their writing hand as a child)
  • Left-handers adjust more readily to seeing underwater

To mark International left-handers day, if you are a rightie, try using your left hand for the day!

Looking for kayaking inspiration? Try this >
Author: Mandy Ams

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