Most people don’t realize that there are a large number of animals that live in the arctic. The harsh climate provides a home to many different types of animals, by either making adaptations or migrating elsewhere for part of the year.
Some examples of these animals include polar bears, beluga whales, walruses, and reindeer. Many of these animals have adapted to the cold, by growing thick layers of fur or blubber. For example, reindeer have hollow hairs that trap air to help insulate them from the cold. The downside of these adaptations is that they also make animals very big and cumbersome in the water, thus making it more difficult for them to swim.
One animal that has adapted well is the polar bear, which can live on land and in the water. The bears have thick layers of blubber, they can close their nostrils, and they can even swim under water for over 40 minutes.
Polar bears and arctic foxes both depend on the sea ice to provide a home for them to hunt and live in. The polar bear lives exclusively off of seal fat during the winter months, as their normal prey migrate south during those times.
The Arctic Fox, on the other hand, hunts lemmings and other small rodents, as well as eats berries and carrion. They have to migrate south for the summer months however because their natural prey migrates north during the springtime.
Beluga Whales live in pods that can sometimes number up to a hundred or more individuals. The belugas migrate into arctic waters during the summer, so they can raise their young and take advantage of the rich feeding in those waters.
These whales migrate south in winter because the food supply in the arctic dwindles in the colder months and their prey migrates into deeper water to escape from surface predators such as polar bears.
The Walrus makes its home on sea ice, specifically in the shallow waters that lead into bays or where currents are strong. The temperature of the water during winter months is too cold for them to stay in long periods of time, especially for their young.
Reindeer migrate south when the snow cover becomes too deep and it becomes harder to find food. However, they migrate north when there is too little snow cover and the food supply begins to dwindle.
In conclusion, the majority of arctic animals migrate south during certain parts of the year because there is either a lack or surplus of resources in certain areas and survive because they make adaptations to their environment. These animals have been able to adapt to these harsh environments for thousands of years and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.