Arctic Marvels: Top 5 Wildlife Spectacles in the Far North

Dec 7, 2023

The Arctic Circle, a vast and pristine wilderness, is home to some of the most captivating wildlife on the planet. From towering icebergs to the dancing Northern Lights, the Arctic offers a symphony of natural wonders. Among our top 5 wildlife sightings wishlist – which ones stand out as unique and awe-inspiring experiences for SKIRR Adventures explorers? 
 
 

Puffin Paradise: A Symphony of Color in Flight 

The Atlantic puffin, with its strikingly colorful beak and comical appearance, is a true emblem of the Arctic’s avian wonders. These charismatic birds’ nest in colonies on steep coastal cliffs, creating a spectacle that is both mesmerizing and heartwarming. Witnessing thousands of puffins in their natural habitat is a sensory overload of sights and sounds. 

In the summer months, when the SKIRR expedition yachts are in the region, the cliffs come alive with the vibrant hues of puffin beaks, as these birds tirelessly shuttle back and forth with beaks full of small fish for their chicks. Observing their coordinated aerial acrobatics and listening to their distinctive calls create memories that linger long after leaving the Arctic shores. 
 
2023 explorer, Edward Gildea, recalls of Leg 2: Discover Iceland, “On the far side of Vestmannaeyjar, some steep climbs and then an outstanding view of the cove, we caught sight of our first puffins. A very lively population of puffins, seating peacefully on their pinnacle territories, leaping off to perform exercise lap around the bay, small wings flapping furiously, then landing with their splayed orange feet braced ahead of them, brightly by the sun, to land as they stalled. Could not be more endearing! 


 

Whale Watching Extravaganza: Giants of the Frozen Seas 

The Arctic’s icy waters conceal a world of giants beneath their surface, making whale watching a must-do activity for any Arctic adventurer. Orcas, belugas, and narwhals are just a few of the remarkable cetaceans that ply the Arctic seas. 
 
The crew on board one of the SKIRR expedition yachts in 2023 recounts “We set sail for Iceland from Tobermory, Scotland. We cruised side by side with the second SKIRR Adventures yacht. There were small groups of guillemots bobbing in the waves making their croaking screeches, mostly mothers and their young, but we noticed those groups growing into larger clusters of several dozen.  Then young dolphins joined us in groups from our starboard quarter, both to play at our bows and then to join the guillemots between our boats. It was as if we were herding a shoal of fish between us. Suddenly the sleek, majestic backs of a couple of whales appeared with their blunter dorsal fins, set well back on their bodies: Minke Whales! Possibly three or four before suddenly the show was over”. 

The chance to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is a rare privilege that lingers in the hearts of those fortunate enough to experience it. 



Arctic Foxes: Masters of Camouflage in the Frozen Tundra 

Yet to be reported by any of the SKIRR Adventure explorers, the Arctic fox, with its thick white fur and bushy tail, is an icon of Arctic resilience. These small, resourceful predators have adapted to the harsh conditions, donning a winter coat that camouflages perfectly with the snow-covered landscape. 

Spotting an Arctic fox in its element is like catching a glimpse of a ghostly apparition against the stark white backdrop of the tundra. These agile hunters are known for their ability to traverse vast distances, covering territories in search of food. Observing an Arctic fox in its natural habitat provides a glimpse into the intricate web of life that thrives in this extreme environment. 
 
“Crew on board the 2024 expedition may be fortunate enough” explains expedition principal Tom Myatt. “Both the Iceland to Greenland legs offer the best opportunity for this very rare sighting” he advises. 


Majestic Polar Bears: Lords of the Ice Kingdom 

The Arctic’s apex predator, the polar bear, commands attention with its powerful presence and iconic white fur. These solitary giants roam the sea ice in search of seals, their primary prey. Witnessing a polar bear in its natural habitat is a humbling experience, a reminder of the delicate balance of nature in this unforgiving realm. 

As climate change poses threats to the Arctic environment, encountering polar bears in the wild becomes increasingly poignant. Responsible and ethical wildlife viewing helps raise awareness about the importance of preserving their fragile habitat. 
 
This is one of the reasons why sailing – not cruising – in these pristine environments is so important. Each SKIRR yacht takes only twelve explorers, plus three professional crew members. Under the power of sail, explore the pristine waters and imposing landscapes of the high latitudes, the SKIRR 68-foot expedition yachts, and over land by foot guide explorers to some of the most remote, untouched natural environments on the planet, using the power of the elements and human endeavour. 

Seals on Ice: Graceful Dancers of the Arctic Waters 

The Arctic’s frozen seas are home to a variety of seal species, each adapted to life in the frigid waters. From the elusive ringed seals to the lumbering bearded seals, these marine mammals provide a captivating display as they navigate the icy landscapes. 

One of the most enchanting sights is watching seals bask on ice floes, their sleek bodies contrasting against the white backdrop. As they gracefully dive and surface, their movements seem almost choreographed, offering a glimpse into the interconnected dance between predator and prey in this extreme environment. 
 
Sailing between iceberg giants, SKIRR explorers may be fortunate enough to spot seals on sea ice. However, the seals spotted by our explorers in the last two years have been closer to the inhabited areas on the shores of Greenland.  
 
 

In conclusion, high latitude sailing to the Arctic Circle is a treasure trove of wildlife spectacles, where each encounter leaves an indelible mark on those lucky enough to experience it. From the whimsical puffins to the majestic whales, the Arctic’s diverse ecosystem is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of life in one of the harshest environments on our planet. As we marvel at these creatures, it is crucial to remember the importance of conservation efforts to protect their fragile habitats and ensure the survival of these Arctic wonders for generations to come. 
 
To discover more about the possibility of joining one of the SKIRR Adventures expedition yachts in 2024, or beyond, simply email info@skirradventures.com.

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