Did you know that Canada has more land in the Arctic than any other country? If you’re seeking a small-ship expedition in one of the planet’s last great wilderness areas, we highly recommend it. Better yet, if you’re a wildlife lover, you’ll find much to swoon over, as you glimpse species that have hardily adapted to this remote destination's rugged climate and conditions. Add these cuties to your animal bucket list as you sail the Canadian Arctic. 


If you never thought you’d actually see a walrus in person, think again - if you’re traveling in the Canadian Arctic, that is. These massive creatures, which have been around for millions of years, have ivory tusks that can grow up to three feet long and are used to pull themselves out of the water, defend themselves against predators such as polar bears, and root around for clams. 

Where to See Them: Baffin Island and the surrounding archipelago 

Polar Bear

While at first thought, we may think of polar bears are ferocious and feared, when they’re viewed in their natural habitat, with no human or societal infringement, they are absolutely magnificent. They’re unfortunately at risk, due to climate change, so see them now while you can. When you’re looking for them, keep in mind that their fur appears off-white against the surrounding white ice and snow (underneath that ivory-ish fur, they’re actually all black!). 

Where to See Them: Churchill, Manitoba, on the Hudson Bay, deemed the “Polar Bear Capital of the World” and that is where I took this picture.

Arctic Fox 

These super cuties can be elusive - even though they’re out there in the great white expanse of the Arctic, they can be hard to see against that snow. They’re pretty tiny, too, about the size of an average house cat. Unbelievably, they can survive in temperatures as low as -94 degrees Fahrenheit! 

Where to See Them: Nunavut Territory’s Smith Sound; Ellesmere Island


We are talking North Pole land, after all, so you won’t be surprised to see Santa’s favorite reindeer while you’re in these parts. Caribou roam in herds, munching on grass that has survived the harsh winter. Fun fact: caribou are great swimmers! 

Where to See Them: Baffin Island


Copyright: © Paul Nicklen/National Geographic Stock / WWF-Canada

The mythical-looking narwhal may appear as if it has leaped from the pages of a picture book, which makes it all the more magical when you meet one in person. The unusually long nose is its horn, and is typically only present on males (females grow tusks). Scientists still don’t know the purpose of the narwhal horn. 

Where to See Them: The coast of Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet or Resolute Bay 

Musk Ox 

This Ice Age-era, shaggy beast sits third from the top of the food chain, after polar bears and wolves. They weigh up to 900 pounds and are recognizable by their horns and their thick fur. Underneath that shaggy brown fur, a wool inner coat keeps them warm through the long winter.

Where to See Them: Ivvavik National Park along the Firth River to Joe Creek; Herschel Island; Ellesmere Island

Bowhead Whale

Perfectly content to live only in the freezing Arctic waters, the bowhead whale does not migrate to warmer seas. It joins several other whale species around Canadian waters, but is happy to just keep its massive self swimming slowly and steadily in this frigid environment. You may spot one jumping out of the water (an incredible sight, given that they can be up to 80 feet long) or breaking through the tough Arctic ice with their heads. 

Where to See Them: Davis Strait, Baffin Bay, Lancaster Sound, Arctic Archipelago, Hudson Strait, Foxe Basin and northwest Hudson Bay 

Ready to see this Canadian Arctic wildlife for yourself?  On a small-ship expedition cruise in this awe-inspiring area of the world, you’ll meet these creatures and more, as you sail the remote islands and along rugged shorelines. Kayak amongst icebergs, watch a polar bear as it hunts, swim with whales and visit with Inuit cultures. Let’s chat about how to put you in the thick of one of Mother Nature’s grandest remaining destinations. Schedule a consultation and we can chat about different itineraries and small ship options! Or, if you haven't signed up for my weekly small-ship experience newsletter, you can do so here: