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Explore More - Expedition Cruising

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ANIMAL attraction They

ANIMAL attraction They may be some of our planet’s most untouched habitats, but the polar regions are still home to some spectacular creatures On an expedition cruise you may see some of the natural world’s most beautiful mammals, many of which are endangered and rare. From colonies of penguins to aweinspiring whales, this icy landscape has much to reveal. 1. Polar bear Found in the Arctic Circle, this large white bear, born on land, boasts a body that has adapted for cold temperatures and moving across snow, ice and open water; its scientific name (Ursus maritimus) means “maritime bear.” When no sea ice is present, polar bears live off reindeer and other land prey. 2. Walrus This flippered marine mammal is found around the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean and subarctic seas of the Northern Hemisphere. Walruses are easily identifiable by their tusks, whiskers and bulk— qualities that have made them attractive to indigenous Arctic people who have hunted them for their meat, fat, skin, tusks and bone. Walruses live in shallow waters on beaches and on sea ice, and feed on clams and other mollusks. 3. Arctic reindeer Also known as the caribou, this species of deer lives on the Arctic tundra. Local populations have depended on caribou for food, clothing and shelter, with hunting of wild reindeer and herding of semi-domesticated reindeer proving vital to the survival of many communities. Reindeer are herbivorous and live in large herds, though they disperse into smaller groups during the long winter months. They are the only mammals that grow new sets of antlers annually; like human fingerprints, no two sets of antlers are the same. 4. Leopard seal Found in Antarctica, the leopard seal, also referred to as the sea leopard, is famous for its blackspotted coat, similar to that of the famous big cat. Found in Antarctic and subantarctic waters, Leopard seals can weigh up to 840 pounds and hunt penguins, birds, smaller seals, fish and squid. These seals are earless and have a thick layer of blubber to protect them from the frigid waters. 5. Humpback whale With its small dorsal fin, distinctive hump and unique black-andwhite patterned tail, humpback whales are easy to identify among the icy seascape. These vast mammals communicate with each other through song, with males producing a complex composition that can last for up to 20 minutes and be repeated for hours. Humpback whales feed in polar waters (eating krill and small fish) and migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to give birth, fasting and living off their fat reserves to survive. 6. Black-browed albatross Found in the Antarctic region, black-browed albatrosses are opportunistic feeders that will eat almost anything, especially fish they can pluck from the surface of the water. They are known to try and snatch food from other birds. Reaching flying speeds of up to 70 miles per hour depending on the wind’s currents, most blackbrowed albatrosses nest on cliff walls or edges. 7. Adélie penguin Found exclusively on Antarctica, Adélie penguin colonies are a highly probable sighting during an expedition cruise, with an estimated 2.5 million pairs distributed widely throughout the continent and peninsula. Black and white with a distinctive white eye ring, Adélie penguins were named after the wife of French Antarctic explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville, who was the first to discover these feisty birds. They can dive to depths of 150 meters and hold their breath for up to six minutes when hunting for krill. 8. Arctic tern These tiny birds boast the longest migration in the world, flying up to 44,000 miles annually (more than 1 million miles in a lifetime) from Antarctica to the Arctic and back again each year. Despite traversing such distances, they can live for up to 30 years. Preying mostly on fish, Arctic terns can be found each summer in colonies on Svalbard,. Clockwise, from top left: Polar bears; a lone walrus on the shore; a young leopard seal; a black-browed albatross; an Arctic tern with chick; Adélie penguins; an impressive display by a humpback whale; a reindeer on the tundra 18 VIKING.COM EXPLORE MORE 2020