• Natural World Safaris Svalbard

Svalbard Wildlife

Svalbard is a place of extremes and superlatives. It is not only ‘the world's northernmost permanently inhabited settlement’, or somewhere you can experience either complete 24-hour daylight or darkness - it is also a place of natural wonder, from the landscapes you encounter to the unique wildlife to be seen.

The ultimate in polar exploration, a Svalbard polar bear holiday offers something truly unique to the modern-day explorer.

What Animals Live In Svalbard?

Its latitude means that Svalbard can experience extremely cold winter months, but in spite of this there is a surprising range of Arctic wildlife. The polar bear is undoubtedly a highlight of any Svalbard wildlife holiday and in many cases this will be the main reason for visiting the region, as it scours the icy tundra looking for its favourite food source of bearded seals. 

How many polar bears are there in Svalbard?

It is thought that there are around 3,000 polar bears in Svalbard, and numbers have steadily increased over the past few decades. This, combined with the fact that the great white bears are relatively fearless of humans, means that your chances of an encounter on one of our specialist expeditions remain high. 

The best time to see polar bears in Svalbard is during in the summer months, as the ice melts enough for ships to navigate the icy waters. A variety of polar bear holidays and expeditions are available throughout Svalbard as well as Arctic Canada, so please do discuss this with one of our specialists to see which will best meet your requirements.

Polar bear, Svalbard
Polar bear close up, Svalbard

What other animals live in Svalbard?

What other animals live in Svalbard?

Inhabiting shallow coastal waters, another unexpected wildlife highlight is that of the walruses, whose diets consist predominantly of molluscs. Growing to between 3 and 4 metres in length and weighing in at an impressive 1,500kg, the walruses can be spotted hauling themselves up onto the shores or ice using their large canine teeth. Thanks to conservation efforts walrus numbers are also on the increase, and are now estimated at around 2,000. Arctic foxes may be spotted both inland, stalking smaller rodents, and at sea, where they feast on marine creatures. 

Most of the foxes found in Svalbard have a distinctive white coat, and their innocent faces are a joy to photograph.

Northern lights, Svalbard
Seal, Svalbard

Other Wildlife Highlights

Also look out for the instantly recognisable and unique puffins of Svalbard that have huge, colourful bills and a peculiar but amusing walk. It is said that there are 10,000 pairs nesting in accessible spots which may be spotted as you sail through the spectacular ice fjords. In areas of rich vegetation during the summer months you may also see Svalbard reindeer, this species being endemic to the region. Males grow their antlers between April and July before shedding their velvet in August, whilst the females’ antlers grow in June and maintain throughout the year.

Svalbard is also another great location to witness the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis, the awe-inspiring light show that changes colour and intensity depending on the gases in the atmosphere. Although said to be less intense over Svalbard than in the skies above Churchill, Canada, it is nonetheless visible, and you may even see daytime auroras... if you're lucky. 


Contact one of our Destination Specialists to start planning your journey to Svalbard. Please note we recommend a budget of from £7,000 / $10,000 USD per person for our style of trip to this destination.

Contact Us