Thursday, April 18, 2019

High Arctic

From plants to animals, big to small, the Arctic is home to a huge and diverse ecosystem. 

Like the Arctic hare, the Arctic fox is known to shift colours in its fur.

Near the caribou is the ringed seal.

For thousands of years people have been at home in the Arctic. This display case shows some of the products made from resources of the Arctic- fur coats, or the corset and lamp oil that would have found part of their material in whales. 

A polar bear specimen is close by.

Climate in the far north has not always been what it is, nor will it always be. A skeleton and skull are displayed side by side of animals that no longer exist in this form. The High Arctic camel is seen at the left, a replica based on fragments of bones found on Ellesmere Island. The bones were 3.5 million years old, and it is thought that the animal would have been 30% bigger than current day camels. The skull of a mammoth is at right; with the end of the last ice age, the various species died out several thousand years ago.

This 3D map of the Arctic uses a white lit line to designate the Arctic Circle- that latitude beyond which the sun does not rise on the longest night of the year, nor set on the longest day of the year. Other lines on the map designate the treeline or continuous permafrost.

Displayed here are recovered artifacts of the ill fated Franklin Expedition of the 1840s, sent out to find a route through the Northwest Passage. Items like buttons, pipes, or other tools were found by various search parties looking for the two ships commanded by John Franklin, but it wasn't until recent years that the ships themselves were located in Arctic waters.

The Canadian Arctic Expedition was a scientific survey of the far north done a century ago, from 1913-18. Some of its artifacts are now here.

I leave off today with this item. While white people are a more recent arrival in the northern reaches of North America, the land has been populated by thousands of years by First Nations peoples who lived off the land and made responsible use of its resources. This parka dates back to 1916 and uses caribou skin as its primary material, typical of Inuit traditions. This is actually a warmer weather parka, meant to be used with a heavier outer coat in colder seasons.


  1. To people like me, the Arctic seems so very far away. Interesting animals living in the Arctic.

  2. I never liked the fur coats ...
    I understand that it is very cold in the Arctic and that people need warm clothing, but wearing a fur coat in the city is ridiculous!
    I think you should moderate the comments ...

  3. A corset in that cold - impressive!
    I´ve read some books about those early expeditions and I´ll never understand how curiosity and the wish to be first can be so strong to "Boldly go where no man has gone before".
    Or how those natives never tried to get to warmer places and invented clothes like that one instead.

  4. As someone who complains about the slightest bit of ice underfoot, I can only admire those who ventured into, or chose to live in, that landscape. The fur looks a lot better on the bear - or at least it did when they were allowed to flourish.

  5. I have never been tempted to visit the artic - far too cold for me. The nearest that I have been was during summertime when I visited the most northerly point off Norway in order to see the midnight sun.

  6. I simply cannot imagine living in cold cold place like the Arctic. The animals are beautiful though.

  7. So much of our land is represented here, yet so few of us have ever visited those regions. How about you, William, have you journeyed to the far north? It seems that with warming sea temperatures and the absence of sea ice, cruise ships may soon be visiting regularly with all of their potential odious effects.

  8. is all about adapting!

  9. I hope to see a Beluga whale in my lifetime. How far north have you traveled? It must be fascinating, life up there!


  10. The spammers are at it again, William, and they posted twice on this post. I know HOW you feel about this detritus and I feel the same, although in less strongly worded terms. I did another post today about these low lifes after getting slammed 10 times on Tuesday by the same low life on previous posts. All were marked as spam and deleted. Today, there were 7 more of the same garbage. You have posted about this spammer as far back as 2 years ago and the message is the same from a “Dr PP” who I declined to name in my post as I am NOT giving this garbage more visibility. Thanks for letting me rant and DO banish those comments as I know you will.
    Enjoyed the post otherwise, as always.

  11. Climate change is truly changing the new normal for residents in the north, a complete way of life is disappearing before our very eyes. The future can be frightening, wonderful exhibit,

  12. I never heard of the High Arctic camel. It sure does look like it was huge. Thanks for sharing.

  13. @Nancy: there is an abundance of wildlife.

    @Ella: I'm not a fan of fur coats either. In the Arctic, however, the people who live there make more responsible use of the resources than, for example, the fur coat wearing socialite. For the most part spammers tend to target older posts, and those are moderated, but the latest ones are getting through in current posts, and that's irritating to see, but easily banished.

    @Iris: the corsets in this case made use of part of the whale in materials- the baleen. So even women far away from the sea were influenced by it.

    @John: that is true.

    @Rosemary: I would like to see the Arctic Ocean with my own eyes.

    @Joan: they are, yes.

    @David: I have never gotten into the Territories, but I've visited most of the provinces at least once.

    @Tom: it is.

    @Janis: the furthest north is into central Alberta.

    @Beatrice: you're welcome. I've deleted the hooker spam again. To the spammer, I'll say something I usually refrain from saying online, but in this case it fits: kill yourself.

    @Laurie: that is true.

    @Anvilcloud: it is!

    @DJan: it was!

  14. i would enjoy seeing the white fox. i see foxes on the road. i think i saw one in the wild alive once ...but not recently ... guess they come in for food?? when it is drier weather? ( ;

  15. I would have never expected to see a camel up there! Wow!

  16. I enjoyed your display behind the glass the animals. Very interesting and appreciate your info. Thank you.

  17. Thank you for stopping by. I don't understand how you worked back to me from your Mumbai spammer, but that's OK. I seem to delete him on a daily basis. Had a new one today, from a money lender. Wonder if he was affiliated with den of thieves of temple fame. I only know eternal vigilance to be rid of them.
    I am impressed with your photography skills. Shooting through glass well is extremely difficult.

  18. I remember how small the caribou, muskox and foxes were. The technology developed over the years for clothing and hunting were amazing. The smallest seals were very small too.

  19. That 3D map is very intriguing to me. I'd enjoy examining it.

  20. Have just been back to catch up on missed posts William, fascinating as always. Your comment about the pesky spammers made me laugh out loud 😀 but they really are a pain in the nether regions! We seem to go through periods where we get hammered with them and then nothing for a while!

  21. @Beth: I've seen red foxes from time to time out in the wild. They're beautiful animals.

    @RedPat: at the time the climate would have been vastly different.

    @Carol: you're welcome.

    @Joanne: yes, I deleted that additional spammer. As far as I'm concerned spammers should throw themselves off the roof. I have no patience at all with that kind of scum. As for the Mumbai spammer, today it was just that he copied and pasted your url for your last post into a second comment, which I found odd, so I followed it intending to yell at him and instead found your post.

    @Red: I would love to see the Arctic.

    @Sharon: I did spend some time looking it over.

    @Grace: there have been the three of them lately, but the Mumbai one is the most obnoxious, given that you'd expect Google to take seriously spam reports about a prostitution spammer.

  22. We see foxes on our farm from time to time. I would also love to see the arctic.

  23. One of ny wife's friends, who was a Native Alaskan, made her a traditional parka when she went to the Arctic. It was the warmest coat my wife ever had. Nice photos and info, William.

  24. This is a wonderful exhibition again. Thanks for sharing, William.

  25. Yes, the Arctic is home to a huge and diverse ecosystem.
    Another interesting post William, many thanks.

    All the best Jan

  26. Very interesting!
    Hope you are having a great week!

  27. @Michelle: it does capture my imagination.

    @Bill: that doesn't surprise me.

    @Jan: you're welcome.

    @Jan: thank you.

    @Klara: it stands out.

    @Lea: thank you!

  28. The caribou herds in Newfoundland often crossed the highway we drove regularly. Beautiful creatures!

  29. Great photos and enjoyed your narrative also. Have you ever been up to the Arctic William? I would love to go and see these amazing sights.

  30. I admire people who can live in such cold temperatures.
    Wonderful photos and a great exhibit.

  31. It's always a surprise to learn how much life there is in an arctic region like this.

  32. Beautiful post and love that fox ~ amazing the color changes ~

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  33. High Arctic CAMEL??!! Wow, you got me again, William!

  34. The display cases are beautiful. I worry terribly about the Arctic climate and those wonderful creatures.

  35. That Franklin expedition, what a disaster.

  36. Thank you, I've learned something new - that there was once an arctic camel:)

  37. Are those creatures dead, or are they still alive?

  38. @Marie: I'd like to see caribou someday.

    @Denise: I have not, no.

    @Happyone: thank you.

    @Kay: definitely.

    @Carol: thanks.

  39. @Cloudia: it was quite an animal.

    @Jeanie: me too.

    @Jennifer: a fascinating story though.

    @Rosie: thank you.

    @Vincent: in these cases, all taxidermied. There are some live specimens in the museum.