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Wildlife in Arctic Canada

The far northern reaches of Canada are a true wilderness of pristine icy expanses and rugged landscapes, with very little human presence and an abundance of wildlife which is specially adapted for life in the extreme cold; including the majority of the world’s polar bears.

Witness wolves, arctic foxes, beavers, pine marten and numerous bird species as you traverse the icy terrain. The Arctic waters are home to a variety of whale species, including belugas, bowheads and the fantastical-looking narwhals, the ‘unicorns of the sea’.

Polar Bears

The polar bear is the main attraction for many visitors hoping to observe the ‘King of the Arctic’ in its natural habitat. The small town of Churchill on the edge of Hudson Bay is one of the few human settlements where it is possible to see polar bears in the wild, and there are an estimated 900 to 1,000 bears in this population. The best time of year to see these magnificent creatures is between October and November as they wait on the tundra for the “Big Freeze”, ready to begin the seal-hunting season. Polar bears here are relatively fearless of humans, so your chances of encountering them on one of our specialist expeditions is very high. In the Spring, you may also have the chance to see newborn cubs, as they emerge from their dens for the first time and take their first tentative steps into the frozen wilderness.


There are many species of seals that can be found in the frozen north. The Atlantic Walrus is present in the Canadian Arctic, Greenland and Svalbard​,​ while the Pacific sub specie​s​ ​is found from ​the Bering Sea to the East Siberian Seas. The bearded seal is a medium-sized earless seal, well known for its dull brown colour and big bushy beard. The great ringed seal is the most common seal throughout the Northern hemisphere and feed largely on arctic cod and crustaceans. The ringed seal is also the smallest seal, growing up to a maximum of 1.65m.

ARC St Arctic Canada Polar Bear Shutterstock Ondrej Prosicky


Whales also dot the waters of Hudson Bay and during the summer months of July and August you can kayak alongside the beluga whales and enjoy Zodiac exploration of the waters. From the floe edge of Canada, it may even be possible to see narwhal, a once in a lifetime sighting for any wildlife enthusiast.


Many seabirds spend their summers in the Arctic, including kittiwakes, murres and eider ducks. Brunnich's Guillemot are seen throughout the Arctic and can be found congregating in large colonies in the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet, Svalbard. The adult bird can grow up to 41cm and up to 1.2kg. The Brunnich's bill is also shorter and thicker than the common guillemot. The bird's call is similar to the sound of a growl.

Arctic Foxes

These small, adaptable foxes are known for their thick white fur in winter, which turns brown in the summer. They are scavengers and feed on a variety of prey, including small mammals and bird eggs.