We were so excited to hear that a National Geographic writer wanted to talk with our very own, Dave Briggs, Arctic Kingdom’s Expedition Leader. They asked him questions about one of our favourite Arctic residence, the narwhal!
Arctic Kingdom was honoured to be mentioned throughout the article for our unequalled narwhal and floe edge trip, Narwhal & Polar Bear, A Floe Edge Safari. This article mentions the trick to Arctic Kingdom’s success at viewing such an elusive and near-mythical whale.
Join us as we review National Geographic’s fantastic article about narwhal and Arctic Kingdom’s ability to bring exceptional trips with friendly guides and comfort to one of the last true wildernesses.
Meet Dave Briggs
Dave is Arctic Kingdom’s expedition leader and an award-winning photographer. His playful footage of an Arctic fox was picked up by National Geographic from one of our Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Safaris.
His friendly demeanor makes any trip with him fun and full of Arctic insights. We have always appreciated his expert knowledge of Arctic landscapes and the wildlife that live there. It allows us to provide such life-changing moments for our guests.
The article explains why Arctic Kingdom and so many others are captivated by this Arctic whale.
It’s not easy to get such exquisite wildlife moments.
You don’t have to search far and wide to find narwhals these days. The so-called “unicorns of the sea” are plastered on everything from kids’ pajamas and lunchboxes to plush toys and LEGO sets. But seeing the animals in the wild is something else entirely.
“They’re really an elusive whale,” says Kristin Laidre. so they’re not a whale that’s going to aggregate around your boat or anything like that for whale watching.”
This makes seeing a narwhal in its natural habitat difficult, but not impossible—providing you know where to look.
Dave has worked with Arctic Kingdom for over 8 years and you may find him on trips throughout the year from the tip of Baffin Island to western Hudson Bay. Our years bringing guests to Arctic and Dave’s understanding of this ecosystem is part of the trick to life-changing trips.
That edge, where ice meets water, makes for the ideal narwhal sighting spot, says David Briggs, an expedition leader for Arctic Kingdom, a travel company specializing in Arctic safaris, private polar expeditions, and logistics.
“And so while they’re at that edge, they continue to feed and wait for the ice to break up further so they can get down the inlets to where they calve.”
Our Narwhal & Polar Bear, A Floe Edge Safari is inspired by African safaris so the entire experience is full of bucket list experiences in this hard-to-reach part of the world that few have gotten to experience!
Seeing an actual narwhal, then, means snowmobiling out to the ice’s edge and sitting in a comfortable chair with a pair of binoculars for hours, or even days. The good news is that plenty of other species flock to the ice’s edge, too, and visitors might see everything from thick-billed murres, black-legged kittiwakes, and northern fulmars, to beluga whales, polar bears, walruses, and three species of seal.
Of course, those who make the trek and have the patience can be rewarded with a life-changing narwhal experience.
And on a really good day, you might even spot a pod of 50 to 100 narwhals surfacing together, he says.
Once the pod comes within about a football field’s length of the edge, they’ll pause to perform a series of what Briggs describes as loud, whirring, breathing exercises.
“It’s just amazing to sit there and listen to that sound,” says Briggs.
Arctic Kingdom in the Article
Now you know the trick to our unique and incredible experience on Narwhal & Polar Bear, A Floe Edge Safari. Our small group and land-based floe edge safari is not just a bucket list filled vacation, it’s an unparalleled opportunity to see one of the most beautiful and elusive whales in their natural habit.
What else can you experience on our Narwhal & Polar Bear, A Floe Edge Safari? The article continues:
As the mottled-skinned whales come closer to the ice’s edge, there are also opportunities to dip a kayak into the water and even go for a snorkel. Scuba gear isn’t recommended, says Briggs, because the animals don’t like the bubbles it creates.
“It’s pretty magical,” says Todd Mintz, a certified public accountant who’s gotten into the water with narwhals several times while on expedition with Arctic Kingdom.
Mintz, who does nature photography on the side, says there’s just something about the way the whales turn to eye you up as they glide by. “Any animal that seems to look at you almost in the same way you’re looking at it,” he says, “is quite amazing.”
Because narwhals are already wary of humans, every effort should be made to avoid scaring the animals off of productive hunting grounds or impacting their movements in negative ways.
The article then discusses the importance of responsible Arctic travel. This is something that we are passionate about and continue to work towards our northern partners. Like so many people and companies, we were affected by the events of Covid-19 and were able to contribute our already-purchased provisions to the community we operate from on this trip.
Unfortunately, the global coronavirus pandemic has made spotting a narwhal in the wild even more difficult. Nunavut, the northerly Canadian territory Arctic Expeditions operates out of for its narwhal tours, has declared a state of emergency as a precaution, leading to closures of school and government offices. And in respect to those communities, the outfitter says it has cancelled all expeditions through June 2020 and donated all of the purchased provisions to local food banks.
As a tour operator, we have to purchase a large amount of provisions and supplies ahead of time to build our comfortable camps and provide gourmet meals daily. With the realities we all are facing and with serious consideration and appreciation for our northern friends, we thought donating these provisions to the local food bank could provide the most help from this circumstance.
We want to thank the communities, guides, and friends that help us provide such remarkable trips and look forward to being able to provide life-changing trips to our guests again soon.
The Arctic is one of the most breathtaking locations on earth and a wildlife safari here is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you are interested in trip details or dream of visiting the Arctic please feel free to talk with one of our sales agents. We look forward to so many Arctic adventures to come and appreciate your support at this time.
Here’s How to Travel with Arctic Kingdom
Our Narwhal & Polar Bear, A Floe Edge Safari is an unequalled comfortable off-the-grid experience that brings you to the very edge of ice that narwhals migrate past each spring. Gourmet meals, expert guides, and knowledgeable expedition leaders like Dave remain excited to bring you on a truly memorable experience.
National Geographic’s Article
We’re so happy that Dave could help National Geographic with this educational article about narwhal and where to find them.
Part of Arctic Kingdom’s mission is to grow the world’s Arctic Ambassadors through real-life wildlife experiences and educational blogs and articles. For more Arctic Kingdom blogs click here.
We wanted to thank Jason Bittel for this fantastic article about one of our favourite Arctic subjects, the narwhal. If you want to read National Geographic’s article click here.
Experience The Arctic On A Safari
Get chances to view elusive Arctic wildlife and experience the majesty of the Arctic on safaris almost year-round. View all Arctic Safaris here.
Ready for adventure? Contact our Arctic Travel Advisors to book.
Are you still curious about the many wonders of the Arctic or looking for more interesting content then explore more blogs here!
By: Mat Whitelaw