North Atlantic right whale (Balaena glacialis), Bay of Fundy, Canada.

Part 4: Canada

The most interesting sector of the Arctic is Greenland and Nunavut (northeastern Canada).

bear bear bear
Polar bear in the forest, Wapusk National Park, Canada.
bear bear bear bear
Polar bears in the forest, Wapusk National Park.
Visiting this region doesn't make sense if you don't have your own airplane (or, at least, a rental one). By now, I've only seen its most accessible Southern part - Hudson Bay coast near Churchill, Manitoba. Hudson Bay has ringed and bearded (E. b. barbatus) seals, belugas and some Atlantic walruses (O. r. rosmarus), but it is most famous for its polar bear population. These bears spend summer in taiga forests around the Bay, and show up on the coast in October, when they wait for the Bay to freeze over. Some fascinating behavior, such as making beds of seaweed or pillows of willow bushes, can be observed at that time, but mostly they spend time sleeping or just hanging around. bear bear bear bear
Bears moving to the sea, Hudson Bay.
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Friendly bear, Cape Churchill.
Bear tracks, Churchill.

Most tourists take expensive "tundra buggy" tours to see the bears. I found an after-midnight trip to local garbage dump to be much more interesting, because that's where all the largest male bears are.
bear bear
Churchill garbage dump.
bear Sow with cubs on the prowl, Churchill. bear Bear sleeping in seaweed bed, Cape Churchill. bear Bear doing absolutely nothing, Churchill.

Gray seals, Cootenay-St. Lawrence Nat'l Marine Park, Quebec.
Minke whale, Cootenay-St. Lawrence Nat'l Marine Park, Quebec.
seal Atlantic harbor seal, I. Bonaventure,
Further South, numerous whalewatching businesses operate off the Atlantic Coast of the United States and Canada. Humpbacks, harbor seals, and occasionally other species can be seen from the Outer Banks (North Carolina), Cape May (New Jersey), and Cape Cod (Massachusets). dolfin
Atlantic white-sided dolphins
(L. acutus), I. Bonaventure.
island I. Bonaventure off Gaspe Peninsula - a great
place to see whales, dolphins, harbor and gray
seals, plus nesting seabirds, such as Northern
gannets (Sula bassana).
But the best locations are all in Canada: the Bay of Fundy (North Atlantic right whale), Cootenay-St. Lawrence Nat'l Marine Park (minkes and belugas), Gaspe Peninsula (all kinds of stuff), and, of course, Iles de la Madeleine (see next page). whirlpool
The Big Sow, the World's largest whirlpool off
Deer Island, New Brunswick, attracts dolphins,
harbor porpoises, thousands of seagulls, and
occasionally whales.

Atlantic harbor seal, Forillon Nat'l Park, Quebec.

Part 5: Canada (continued)
Back to Part 3