Whales of Svalbard

WHALES OF SVALBARD   Off the coast of Svalbard, it is not uncommon to see whales. Most often, they are belugas, or minke whales, but humpback whales and fin whales are also seen regularly around Svalbard. In the last few years the blue whale has also become more common. This is the largest mammal in the world! The bowhead whale ...

Seals of Svalbard

SEALS OF SVALBARD   The bearded seal is the largest of the Arctic seals. This seal is characterized by its moustache, rectangular body and relatively small head. Female can be a little larger than the males and weigh over 400 kilograms. Bearded seals are almost always seen resting on sea ice and rarely on shore. In areas free of hunters ...

Walrus

THE WALRUS   The walrus is one of the most spectacular marine mammals on Svalbard. Males can be up to four meters long and weigh 1500 kilograms. Females are significantly smaller. On land, they are slow and clumsy, while in the water, they can be aggressive and far more dangerous. From the 1600s, and for almost 350 years there was ...

Arctic fox

THE ARCTIC FOX   Svalbard’s second largest predator on land is the Arctic fox. This curious little fox is highly adapted to a varying food supply. In summer it specialize in stealing bird eggs or chicks. In the winter it must endure long, cold days with little food, and sometimes encounters human settlements while in search of food. Today, there ...

Svalbard reindeer

THE SVALBARD REINDEER   Svalbard reindeer are significantly smaller than their relatives in Scandinavia, Russia, Canada and Alaska. They have shorter legs, more compact body, and are very well adapted to the extreme conditions of Svalbard. You will find reindeer mainly on Spitsbergen in the wide, long valleys that turn green in summer, but they do also venture into more ...

Snow bunting

SNOW BUNTING   The snow bunting is the most common passerine species in Svalbard. It is often found close to settlements but ts is also breeding among auks in the bird cliffs around Spitsbergen. Like many Arctic species it has a perfectly adapted plumage in white and black. For many people in Longyearbyen, the arrival of the snow bunting is ...

Waterfowl

WATERFOWL   There are six breeding species of waterfowl in Svalbard. This includes the three ducks: the long-tailed duck, the common eider and the king eider. The common eider is most easily seen, since it is the most abundant and often nests in easily observed colonies. Eiders may also nest close to houses, like tame birds. The most spectacular of ...

Northern fulmar

THE NORTHERN FULMAR   The northern fulmar is one of the most numerous seabirds on Svalbard, and nests on steep cliffs along the coast. They often return to the same nesting sites each year, and may also visit the nest site during the winter. The northern fulmar is a faithful companion for boaters, as it glides effortlessly across the ocean ...

Seagulls, terns and skuas

SEAGULLS, TERNS AND SKUAS   Kittiwakes and glaucous gulls are the main gulls nesting on Svalbard. You can also see ivory gulls and sabine gulls, but they are not as numerous. The ivory gull is one of the most beautiful birds on Svalbard, with chalk-white plumage, black legs and yellowish bill. This gull is usually found near sea ice, and ...

Auks – penguins of the north

AUKS - penguins of the north   The most numerous birds on Svalbard are auks, represented by the little auk, brünnich’s guillemot, black guillemot and the Atlantic puffin. They nest in the hundreds of thousands and can be seen in many of the imposing bird cliffs along the coast of the archipelago, or far out at sea. Auks are important ...