‘Tis the season to talk about some REAL cold animals.
The holidays are here and winter is upon us, but in the Northern Hemisphere, winter is always upon…them. And by “them,” I of course mean the animals living at the North Pole. All of these animals are iconic, because, frankly, their living conditions are stupid cold. It takes a pretty strong and well-adapted chap to deal with all of that ice. Let’s get to know these absolute champions, and celebrate them as they deserve.
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This large darling is flippered, fabulous, and found in the Arctic Ocean around the North Pole and subarctic Northern Hemisphere seas. You may know them from their gigantic tusked face and huge bodies—grown males can get up to 4,400 pounds. These gargantuan lads can usually be found lounging about or searching for mussels, clams, and fish to dine on. And those tusks help a pretty great deal with piercing through ice. Walruses are large, in charge, and a keystone species, playing a critical role in the ecological community.
The arctic fox is tiny but strong, able to survive in the harshest conditions of the treeless Arctic regions. These little fellows live inside of burrows, enabling them to hide from blizzards effectively. The arctic fox is also a master of disguise—its pure white coat helps it to blend in with the snow during the winter months, and when the snow melts and the surroundings change, so does its coat, giving its a brownish-gray appearance.
The puffin, at first glance, looks like the cartoon clock salesman of birds, in that he looks like he owns and operates an old-timey shop in the 1800s while also being the mayor of the town. In reality, however, they are Arctic seabirds who find their food by diving straight into the water like small, torpedoing adventurers. Puffins love to hang out on cliffs and islands in massive groups.
The snow bunting is a sweet-looking little Arctic bird and is the only bird of their kind (a passerine) that can travel so far into the Northern Hemisphere during the wintertime, other than the common raven (as we all know). The snow bunting loves to eat weeds and who can blame them. They have also been known to prey on basking spiders by throwing rocks at them, which is quite a noble activity in which they deserve some sort of award.
The muskox is an Arctic hoofed mammal that looks like a half bison, half huge pillow with antler bonnets. They are herd animals, and the males emit a horrible smell during mating season to attract females. Fact: female muskox love foul-smelling husbands. They can live anywhere from 12 to 20 years. Despite being gigantic in size, they are not known for being aggressive towards humans.
Please welcome the main hero of the arctic region, the beluga whale. These sweet whales are mostly solitary and extremely friendly. It is known as the “sea canary” due to its high pitched little screech. It does not have a dorsal fin, making it look like a huge white tube. Beluga whales have been known to travel to Norway and fetch iPhones out of the water when people drop them. One time, one of them was even (allegedly) working as a spy for the Russians—this is not a joke and should not be taken as one. One day, beluga whales will take over the earth with their good nature, if we are lucky.
The narwhal is a relative of the beluga, and everyone knows him by his famous pointed tusk coming right out of his face. Don’t even tell me that you don’t know this fellow—it’s the whale with the large horn, you know the one! This medium-sized toothed whale lives in the Arctic sea year-round, often off the coasts of Greenland, Canada, and Russia. They can live up to 50 years.
At first glance, the northern fulmar looks like a winter’s duck, as he floats on top of the Arctic seas. They are the seagull of the northern hemisphere, in that they are absolutely everywhere and also kind of resemble a seagull, but cold. It is NOT a seagull, though, don’t get it twisted—these guys have nostril tubes on their beaks and fly with stiff wings. Most of their year is spent on the open ocean—you think a seagull can do that? Well, it can’t.
All rise for the king of the arctic region, the lord of the Northern Hemisphere: the polar bear. Traipsing around the Arctic Circle at up to 990 pounds, polar bears are the largest bear in existence and also extremely rude and predatory (though adorable). They are born on land but spend most of their lives on sea ice, qualifying them as marine mammals. The polar bear is a vulnerable species due to climate change and must be protected at all costs.
The ubiquitous ringed seal is a big player in the Arctic community and also unfortunately a main meal for the polar bears and killer whales. They are a small seal, identified by their spots that are encircled with little rings. They have plump bodies and cat-like heads, making them extreme cutie pies who simply love to eat fish.