Wednesday April 22, 2015 marks the 45th Anniversary of Earth Day. It serves as the perfect reminder to educate yourself and do your part to help make a difference in the world we live in.
The Arctic is home to incredible wildlife and Arctic Kingdom is passionate about giving you the opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat, which is the reason we appreciate Earth Day and value everything it stands for. Earth Day’s year- round mission is to broaden, diversify and activate the environmental movement worldwide. A major focus of many campaigns is saving the Arctic and preserving the region’s rich biodiversity.
Earth Day - Consequences of Apathy
As climate change becomes progressively more threatening to Arctic wildlife, drastic changes need to be made to help save the environment. As the Earth warms up and the ice begins to melt, sea levels rise which has an impact on our coasts. Many Arctic species rely on sea ice to survive and the shift in temperature is making ice vanish at an alarming rate.
Within several decades, the Arctic Ocean ice cover is predicted to completely disappear during summer months, leaving many species without that necessity for survival. Polar bears, for example, rely on summer ice to hunt seals. Losing one of the Earth’s primary ecosystems leaves animals that rely on it with an uncertain future, which is the reason scientists predict that two-thirds of the polar bear population could be extinct by 2050.
Earth Day is a reminder that we all need to be conscious of our lifestyle and how it has a ripple effect on the rest of the world. Climate change not only affects countless creatures, it affects us all. The celebration of Earth Day is necessary to remind people of the importance of saving our planet and raise awareness of its need for protection. Let Earth Day be a lesson: You can make a difference that has the potential to result in global change.
For more information about Earth Day and how you can get involved and show your support, visit www.earthday.org.
Author: Mandy Ams
The Latin name for Arctic char is Salvelinus alpinus, a fish by any other name would taste as delicious. [Shakespeare, please forgive me.] I prefer it to salmon. Have you tried some? I like it grilled in butter and served with freshly ground black pepper.
If you have a great Arctic char recipe, please share it in the comments
This species of fish is an excellent source of protein and Omega-3. You can substitute it for salmon in your favourite recipe.
Arctic char are members of the salmonidae family that includes salmon, trout, graylings and freshwater whitefishes. They spawn in freshwater, some spend most of their lives at sea, yet some are landlocked their entire lives. Arctic char are the most northerly distributed freshwater fish.
Much of the Arctic char available in your local supermarket is farm raised. To truly appreciate the unique taste you should try wild Arctic char.
Thomas Lennartz is an experienced expedition leader who has been an important part of the Arctic Kingdom family for a very long time. We were chatting the other day about the reputation of polar bears as dangerous creatures. An undeserved reputation according to Tom.
On the islands of Svalbard, where Norway's polar bear population resides there is a precautionary principle: Keep your distance. Norwegians take seriously their stewardship of the Svalbard polar bear population. So seriously that they have published a how-to manual for visiting their polar bear territory.
Human behaviour toward polar bears can be dangerous
The answer to the question "are polar bears dangerous" lies somewhere in between Svalbard's "Polar bears are potentially dangerous animals" and Tom's belief that their reputation is undeserved. The key is found in our behaviour as travellers through polar bear habitat.
Baiting, pursuing or approaching polar bears feeding are three behaviours that will bring out the beast in the bears. Quietly observing polar bears in a non-threatening manner as they go about their normal activities will keep a bear calm. So calm in fact that the polar bear may ignore you completely. That is the perfect opportunity to take the money shot, like the one that illustrates this post.
The smell of breakfast cooking that drifts from a camp can draw a polar bear. The smell of bacon brings me into the kitchen from wherever I've been. So we shouldn't be surprised that a polar bear reacts just like us!
When you travel with us on any of our polar bear trips, you'll be in the hands of experts who know how to behave in polar bear country.
What might be considered Arctic Kingdom's favourite day of the year occurs in one week: International Polar Bear Day. Polar Bears are truly international as they are circumpolar - found everywhere in the Arctic. Did you know they are protected by an international agreement - The International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears and their Habitat.
The Polar Bear Administrative Committee (PBAC) is the Canadian organization that coordinates the efforts of provincial, territorial and federal governments to do their part to protect the marine mammals. Canadians play an important part in the protection of polar bears, 60% of the world's population of polar bears inhabit the Canadian Arctic.
The Province of Manitoba, a member of the PBAC, has established an International Polar Bear Conservation Centre in Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg. Polar bear husbandry - the care and health of polar bears - is researched at the centre. The facility is also a transition centre for orphaned or injured polar bear cubs.
You can mark International Polar Bear Day by donating to organizations that work to protect polar bears or by making a change in your life style. Leave a smaller carbon footprint. Reduce, reuse and recycle. Take a refillable mug to your favourite copy shop. Teach your kids the importance of environmental responsibility.
We contribute to the protection of polar bears through education. No matter which of our polar bear trips a traveller chooses, he or she will return home with a better understanding of the impact that their daily lives have on the habitat of polar bears. Education is essential for conservation.
The answer to that trick question is narwhal and narwhals are equally correct. What you choose to use is up to you.
What is a tusk made of?
The tusk is a tooth that grows from the upper jaw of the male of the species. Every tusk has as many as 10 million nerve endings inside it. On rare occasion one has been seen with two tusks.
What color is the Arctic whale?
That depends on its age. Blue-gray is the colour of a newborn, with juveniles turning blue-blac. Adults are mottled. Narwhal that live to an old age turn almost all white.
What is the Inuktituk name for narwhal?
Qilalugaq tugaalik is the traditional name. Scientists refer to the whale as monodonmonoceros. Linguists claim that the English name comes from the Old Norse: Nar (corpse) and hvalr (whale).
Where can you see them in the wild?
We are glad you asked! The greatest number summer in the Canadian Arctic at the north end of Baffin Island and Prince Regent Inlet. Baffin Island is the narwhal capital of the world. Our adventure - Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari - occurs when the narwhal migrate from Baffin Bay where they spend the winter months.
Raw research from the waters off Torngat Mountains National Park
Torngat Mountains National Park is the third entry in a series of posts from the journal of Arctic Kingdom's Jason Hillier who spent 17 days aboard our charter vessel M V Cape Race in the company of researchers.
Sunshine Fiord - Torngat Mountains National Park
As we sailed the coastline of Torngat Mountains National Park we encountered amazing fiords, most notably Sunshine Fiord. We had to hole up overnight there to escape some wind. We had crossed the Davis Strait and made a beeline for Labrador in order to get the researchers on shore and the dive team in the water again.
We had a great day of sampling, and diving in the waters just off the Park. The epic scenery and the mountains of Torngat, especially Seven Islands Bay, was a great backdrop to a spectacular day and we even knocked off a couple more successful dives.
The sailing continued past Saglek Basecamp. After dropping off our Parks Canada crew, we made our way to Makkovik for fuel, water and supplies. Makkovik is an Inuit community on the coast of Labrador. It was great to be on land again, but our researchers never tired and we were able to squeeze in three dives. A great inter-tidaling-sample effort from our shore team meant that they came home with not only specimens but fresh berries. A delicious treat!
What's in a polar bear name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." My apologies to Shakespeare.
Polar bear and cub
Because the big white bears are found every Arctic country in the world, there are many polar bear names. Master of helping spirits is the translation of the Greenlandic name tornassuk. The Sami people of Scandinavia's Arctic do not speak the bear's name. Instead, they refer to polar bears as God's dog or old man in the fur cloak. Russians call polar bears beliymedved - the white bear. Norwegians tell it like it is - they simply call the polar bear - isbjorn - ice bear.
In March of 2014, the Toronto Zoo unveiled the name of its new polar bear cub - Humphrey. You can read about Humphrey here. There are two opposing views about keeping polar bears in zoos - zoos protect biodiversity and save endangered species from extinction vs. the belief that zoos are inhumane places to keep migratory animals. Understandably, Arctic Kingdom believes that the best place to see polar bears are in the wild.
German researchers have done DNA studies that indicate polar bears became a distinct species about 600,000 years ago. About 40 different indigenous peoples call the Arctic home, each with their own tales - and names - for polar bears. Polar bears pre-date human beings. I wonder what they call us?
The height of 2014 polar bear travel season is approaching. As you know, prime time usually means prime dollars. There are some bargains to be had. Read about our 2014 savings.
Polar Bear Migration Fly-in Photo Safari
Get 6 days for the price of 5! No haggling. Join the October 19, 24 or November 14, 2014 departures and you'll get an extra day of polar bear watching without paying one cent more! That is a savings of $1596 per person. Yes you read that right - $1596 per person based on the per day rate for the 5 day trip. Sometimes math does come in handy. You will get one more day on the land to encounter polar bears, Arctic foxes and may be, if the conditions are just right, Northern Lights!
No Single Supplement for Solo Travellers on Polar Bear Trips
I travel alone more often than I travel with companions. There is nothing more than I dislike is paying the ransom travel companies charge for solo travel. The rate for a solo traveller on our Polar Bear Migration Fly-in Photo Safari is 1.7 times the per person rate. Don't hiss or boo. We aren't the villains you might think we are, because in 2014 only, we have a few solo travellers who want to share a cabin so they don't have to pay the single supplement of $5,586. They have asked us to find them cabin mates. We're matching women with women and men with men. More importantly, you'll be meeting new people that share your passion for polar bears and the Arctic! Call us toll free 1-888-737-6816 to inquire about dates and availability. If you snooze, you will lose this travel bargain.
Have you seen Disneynature's Bears? Filmed in Alaska, it follows a mother and her two cubs from the time they emerge from the den until they return to that den a year later. Alastair Fothergill co-directed and co-wrote the documentary. His pedigree as a wildlife documentary is long and distinguished. He began in the renowned BBC Natural History department working with Sir David Attenborough. So you don't have to take my word that Bears is worth spending an afternoon on the couch with the family and a bowl of popcorn.
Make your own documentary - about Grizzly Bears
You are right to be skeptical about your ability to equal the quality of Bears, but that doesn't mean you can't make a wildlife documentary. Digital cameras - and smartphones - shoot HD video. You can edit your footage on your home computer. You can even add soundtrack music and titles. If you are shouting at your tablet screen, "Yes I can do that, but there's no way I can get as close to bears as professional documentary makers," desist. Because you can! Really.
The picture to above is proof. The video we shot at the grizzly bear camp is further proof. Watch the grizzly bears here.
Make your own documentary - about Polar Bears
Now that I have convinced you that you can make your own wildlife documentaries, let me amp the excitement up a notch. Make a documentary about polar bears. Yes, you can get close enough to shoot polar bears and live. We can make it happen for you. We have the video to prove it. Watch the polar bears here.
“There must be over 20 bowhead whales!” Exclaimed Graham Dickson, Chief Expedition Officer for Arctic Kingdom Expeditions.
It was August 2012, and while scouting a new area just south of Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut by boat with a couple of photographers on Arctic Kingdom’s trip “Polar Bears and Glaciers of Baffin Island” Dickson, and the photographers were witnessing the act of bowhead whales rubbing their 60’ long bodies on the rocks at the bottom of the ocean floor to scrape off their skin – a process also known as ‘molting’.
Bowheads rubbing in the shallow waters of the coast of Baffin Island allowed with snorkeler Todd Mintz approaching
One of the photographers, Todd Mintz, a Canadian photographer who has travelled with Arctic Kingdom to photograph polar bears, muskox and narwhal since 2010 couldn’t resist putting on his drysuit and floating in the water to witness the behavior underwater. He took this video with a GoPro camera mounted on his camera.
When asked what is was like to have a 100 ton whale approach to within 5 feet of him, Mintz replied, “That was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. I had no idea what he was going to do. I was frozen on the spot, and only remembered to take some pictures at the last second. That never happens.”
View from the boat when the bowhead whale surfaced
Mintz also managed to retrieve some bowhead whale skin that was floating in the water.
At the time Dickson and the photographers on board knew they were witnessing something special.
The fact that there were such a high concentration of bowhead whales in 30’ of shallow water is very rare as bowhead whales are known to be pelagic or deep water whales. Second, the water clarity was crystal clear and to our knowledge there has never before been such clear underwater photographs taken of bowhead whales. Third, the pieces of bowhead whale skin in the water, also to our recollection had not been seen before.
To verify what we saw, we consulted with the Canadian expert in bowhead whales - retired bowhead whale ecologist and researcher Kerry Finley. Finley has studied the Baffin Island bowhead whales since 1983 along the coast of Baffin Island mainly a few hundred kilometers to the north in Isabella Bay. He had not been to the location where we saw the rubbing activity.
"The place where whales go" according to local Inuit elders
After discussing the behavior of the bowhead whales with Finley and reviewing photos and video taken on the trip he commented, “Your photographers captured just the sort of image that we tried so many years to obtain…I had hoped to document the rubbing behaviour that I suspected was taking place but to no avail. It is interesting that you actually saw pieces of skin which I never saw. It is definitely molting behavior that you saw”.
Finley went on to say, “What you have found, could very well be a very special place for bowhead whale observation”
The bowhead whales were finning, logging (resting on the surface), tail slapping, and rubbing on the rocks in the shallow waters
Upon returning to the Arctic Kingdom base camp that evening one of the local Inuit elders came to our camp. We described to him where we went and what we saw. His response was simple – “Yes, you went to the place where the bowhead whales go”.
Apparently we are not the first ones to have ‘discovered’ the bowhead whales and where they go to molt. The Inuit people have known about them all along.
Arctic Kingdom is planning on returning Aug 2 to 6, 2015 and Aug 6 to 18 2015 to the “place where the bowhead whales go” along with our Inuit friends and we hope to repeat the encounter. 2016 dates are also planned around the same timeframe.
EDIT 2014: Arctic Kingdom returned in 2014 and observed the bowhead whale molting behavior with an excited group of guests.
There are still a few limited spaces left for interested persons who would like to join. For more details visit this page: “Polar Bears and Glaciers of Baffin Island”
Or Contact: Thomas Lennartz – [email protected]