Incredible Animals In The Arctic: How The Coolest Creatures Survive

Oluniyi Akande
Oct 06, 2023 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Oct 14, 2021
A mother polar bear keeping an eye as her two cubs rest
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.3 Min

The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of the world's major five oceans located in the middle of the northern hemisphere, surrounded by Eurasia and North America, and its borders follow topographic features.

The Bering strait on the pacific side and Greenland Scotland ridge on the Atlantic aide. The Arctic ocean is called the coldest oceans of all oceans. Artic is the polar region which consists of the Arctic ocean, parts of Alaska (United States), Canada, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Russia.

The ecosystem in the Arctic region is one of the most productive ones in the world. The Tundra land is covered with ice and snow and is a treeless region called permafrost, which is permanently frozen in underground ice.

If you pay a visit to this region you will encounter all sorts of animals starting from the seals to the Arctic hares. Even insects are found in the far north areas.

The food of most of the species comes from these ice caps.

The wildlife in these regions has caught the attention of people all over the world. The biggest question is how an animal manages to live in such extreme conditions and why an animal turns brown and white every now and then.

To find out the answers to these questions continue reading. If you are interested in knowing about the wildlife in other regions do check out our other articles on animals that live in Antarctica and animals in the taiga.

What living things live in the Arctic?

Life in the Arctic region includes zooplankton, phytoplankton, fish, marine mammals, birds, land animals, plants, and humans. The indigenous people of the land have adapted to climate change. The climate has cold winters and cool summers. The plants of the Arctic region comprise dwarf shrubs, graminoids, herbs, lichens, moses, as a whole close to the ground called tundra.

Of all the living things some animals like the polar bears, walruses, reindeer, and other plants varieties like the berry plant, pasque flower, and the artic poppy have received the most attention. Polar bears live in the arctic in Canada, Alaska, Russia, and Greenland.

They are the kings in the arctic. The polar bear is the top predator and feeds on animals in the sea ice. The melting sea ice has caused a disruption in the food chain and has resulted in a decrease in population.

They do not attack humans that often. Only five attacks have been recorded in the past 50 years.

Did you know polar bears are actually black? The fur is translucent and reflects the light of the surrounding area appearing white. The ski beneath the fur is jet black.

Walruses are another popular species in the Arctic. An interesting fact about these animals is that their tasks never stop growing and are around 3 ft (0.9 m).

It helps these heavy creatures climb ice caps. They live in herds and live in areas filled with sea ice. The reindeer is a common sight in this region.

Some of the underrated animals are the narwhals and Canada lynx. Narwhals are creatures that resemble the unicorn.

The long tusk from the head gives them a unicorn like appearance. The Canada lynx looks like a mix between a cat and a fox. It is a very attractive animal that occurs in dense boreal forests.

This is why they are often Apart from the wildlife and plant life, only about four million people live in the Arctic worldwide. Alaska is filled with muskoxen and arctic wolves.

How many different animals live in the Arctic?

There are around 5500 species of animals that live in the arctic. There are 35 mamma species,67 terrestrial mammal species, four species of whales, 240 fish species, and six seal species.

A common misconception is that penguins are arctic animals. Penguins are not arctic animals. They live in the south pole and antarctic regions. There are also insects like mosquitoes and blackflies. Spiders are found in Ellesmere island. Five species of pacific salmon are found in Alaska.

Lynx climbing tree on a winter day

What animals live in the arctic ocean?

Arctic wildlife mainly consists of polar bear (polar bear lives in Artic and not Antarctica), Arctic fox also called the white fox, snow fox, polar fox, reindeer or caribou, Arctic weasel, Arctic hare, Arctic lemming, seal, and the sea otter.

The 40 species of land animals include the famous animal, the polar bear, and others like the musk ox, arctic wolf, and arctic hare. It is said that the polar bear in the arctic will most likely become extinct by 2030. There are around 1000 foxes and predators like the red fox.

The red fox species feed on Arctic foxes. Caribou has become a victim of oil mining which has cost them their habitats. America's only wood bison species are found in the arctic.

An abundant number of whales are found in the arctic. The marine wildlife includes the whales like the bowhead whale, blue whale, humpback whale, fin whale, and killer whale. Animals that live in the arctic ocean also include the ringed seals and pacific walruses.

During summer a large number of migratory whales are also found in the sea. The bowhead, beluga, and narwhal are often referred to as the enticing trio. The bowhead instead of teeth has plates called baleen on its jaws.

Their population has decreased since commercial hunting in the '80s. Now there are 10,400 - 23,000 whales. The beluga whale is very popular.

It is white and very social. It attracts a lot of tourists due to its friendly nature. The narwhals are widely hunted for their vitamin C rich skin.

There are about 240 species in the Arctic ocean, the most common fish species is the Arctic cod. Other fishes like jellyfish, cattle fish are also found. The Chrysaora melanogaster is the biggest jellyfish. It swims beneath the ice.

They travel in packs and can sting even after they are dead. The arctic cod are energy rich fishes. It plays a major role in the ecosystem.

There are 29 arctic and sea birds that are seen often. The biggest arctic bird is the arctic tern. Some of the land birds are buntings, snow owls, and falcons.

Albatrosses, terns, gulls, guillemots, and turnstones are the sea bird species. Waterfowl like the snow geese, swans, and ducks are also spotted often. Most birds are found on Spitsbergen island.

What animals are in the arctic tundra?

The wildlife in the arctic tundra is also diverse. It has several herbivorous and carnivorous animals. The lemming, arctic hare, squirrel, and caribous are some of the herbivorous animals.

Animals like the brown bear, tundra wolf. Several birds like the ravens, falcons, snow buntings, sandpipers, and gull species have their habitat in the arctic tundra. Migratory birds also pay a visit in the summer.

Even in such cold temperatures insects like the grasshoppers, bumblebees, moths, and mosquitoes survive. The most common fishes are the pink salmon, flatfishes, and cod. Several other migratory animals from the south are found in summer.

How do animals survive in the arctic?

The Arctic land doesn't seem appealing to all species, but it is home to many animals. How animals manage to survive in such temperatures has always been mind-blowing. The temperature in winter can drop to −76 F (−60 C).

The coldest temperature recorded is -90.4 F (-68 C). The summer is not that warm either. They survive in freezing sea ice with the help of several adaptations.

Thick fur: all of the animals in the arctic regions are fluffy especially the animals in the wild like the arctic fox and bears. They make you want to cuddle. These thick layers of fur are not just cute but serve as a barrier against the harsh cold.

The hair tips entrap heat and keep them. The heat does not leave the body easily either. This lets the animals stay warm, for prolonged periods.

Fat content: the fat content in the body is always frowned upon and said to bring a lot of health problems. But this is a life savior for the animals in the arctic. The fat has enough energy to generate heat.

They also take high nutrient food which helps them. They mainly feed on fish from the ice caps and berries and eggs. Blubber is a thick layer of fat that lies underneath marine mammals such as whales, seals, and ringed walruses.

Oil skin: we have definitely noticed the super shiny skin of whales and other animals. This oil helps in trapping heat. It also locks the moisture and prevents skin breakage.

Body size: the arctic wildlife mostly has shortened limbs and tails. Except for larger species like bears in the wild all other animals are quite compact. This is an adaptation that helps them use the heat in a conserved manner instead of wasting it by covering a large surface.

Snow insulation: the first thought that comes to our mind when we hear snow is cold. But only a few of us know that snow is actually a good insulator.

The snow or ice found in greater depths closer to the ground are warm and traps heat. This is the reason why animals often dig holes in the snow and lie and them.

When the Arctic region gets cold, the migrating animals and birds grow warmer fur and feathers and even change their color sometimes to camouflage against the ocean and snow. The most famous color changing animal is the arctic fox that changes its color from brown to white and vice versa depending on the temperatures or season.

The Arctic wildlife tends to hibernate during the coldest winter. Small animals like squirrels hide in a thickly vegetated habitat or meadow amidst grass to escape the cold winter winds.

Some fishes like the Alaska blackfish produce chemicals that reduce the temperature of the fluids present within the cells. This is how the wildlife in the arctic region survive during the winter.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for animals in the arctic then why not take a look at animals in Alaska, or animals that fly facts pages?

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

Oluniyi Akande picture

Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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