This summer, two Vancouver Aquarium staffers are visiting communities in Canada’s Arctic. Eric Solomon, director of the Aquarium’s Arctic Programs, and Neil Fisher, Aquarium photographer and videographer, will share their perspectives on people, places and experiences as they learn more about changes taking place in this region. This ninth installment is written by Neil Fisher.

The uber long day of travel from Iqaluit to Vancouver provides ample opportunity to look back at some the footage and images captured over the past two weeks, as well as think of all the stunning places I’d visited, the incredible people I’d met, and unique animals encountered. Even the short little stopovers in Kugluktuq, Arctic Bay, and Resolute provided a glance at how much the landscape, communities, and environment vary across the Arctic.


A Peregrine Falcon performed a distraction display as we approached its likely well-hidden nest.

It’s important to realize that the Arctic isn’t ever lifeless – from the people who call the Arctic home every day of the year, to the animals that thrive in the coldest of winters and the shortest of summers, there’s alway plenty of life in the Arctic. With that said, I think I’ve caught the Arctic itch – and by itch, I’m not referring to the countless light mosquito bites, but rather the intense desire to explore the Arctic more and discover what winter in the Arctic has to offer.


A bowhead whale surfaces for a quick breath amongst a patchwork of ice.

It’s not as if I was expecting to encounter any particular animals while gallivanting through the diverse Arctic environments, but looking through the images captured, I am a little surprised with the animals we did encounter. We didn’t find any stereotypical Arctic life – no caribou, polar bears, or belugas. However, what we did find just goes to show how much life really does exist up north. I never expected to ended up face to face with an Arctic fox, be dazzled by a Peregrine Falcon distraction display, spot and learn what a long-tailed jaeger is, or hear and see a mighty bowhead whale.


A long-tailed jaeger gracefully walks across the tundra west of Cambridge Bay.

As amazing as it was to see species of wildlife new to me, the biggest thing I will take away from this trip is all the new friends made. It was so awesome being able to hang out with Helen Drost, watch as she conducted her research, and create sleep-deprived hypotheses, such as lemmings simply being mosquito-shrunken muskox. And how crazy it was to sit in the back of the tiny 21 passenger turbo-prop out of Pangnirtung with six of the coolest kids I’ve ever met.


An Arctic fox stares wide-eyed at the camera, just feet from its den.

I’d encourage everyone to try and visit Canada’s north at least once in their life; it’s truly an eye opening experience.


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One Response

  1. Bob Hilscher

    You certainly sum it up properly: “It’s important to realize that the Arctic isn’t ever lifeless”… I agree with you fully, and there is much that needs to be done on this planet to save and protect animals in the Arctic like the bowhead whale. They are one of the most amazing animals I have had the opportunity to spend time with. Hopefully we humans will come to their aid and protect them from the threat of increased shipping and possible oil spills on both sides of the Arctic Ocean. I have posted a four-part series about my time with Arctic bowhead whales at:


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