A Polar Holiday - Exploring the Wildlife of Baffin Island

In the far north of Canada, in the newest and largest part of the country, Nunavut is one of the most sparsely populated areas of the world and is inhabited only by a spread of around 32,000 Inuit people. A polar holiday to the region will often focus on Baffin Island, which is the country's largest, and the fifth largest in the world.

The capital is Iqaluit and the whole island is home to about 11,000 inhabitants. Take time to explore the capital before heading out on guided treks to see the stunning wildlife off the coast. The island is renowned for its wildlife, both in the waters surrounding it and on the coast. Inuit guides can take you out along the coast on snowmobiles and komatik, or Inuit sleds, to observe the myriad sea life and birdlife that call Baffin Island home.

Sea life off the coast of Baffin Island

As you head out of the town of Iqaluit on your polar holiday and move along the coastal region, keep a look out for the Narwhal. The Narwhal is a distinctive, toothed arctic whale that is known for its pointed tusk, which is actually an elongated left canine tooth. The whales are born dark and lighten with age and a male Narwhal can weigh up to 1,600 kilograms and have tusks up to three metres long. The females are slightly smaller and they have shorter, straighter tusks. If you see a Narwhal on your polar holiday, you can consider yourself extremely fortunate; these creatures are particularly sensitive to changes in climate and are being driven further north. As well, while on the coast, look for the white gleam of the Beluga Whale, a relative of the Narwhal, that lives in the cold arctic waters and is known for its distinctive high-pitched chatter. You may also see the large Bowhead Whale, which is second in size only to the Blue Whale [although the Fin Whale is the second longest]. The Bowhead Whale lives its entire life in the arctic, without travelling for breeding, and it has one of the longest life expectancies of any mammal, sometimes reaching up to 200 years. The Bowhead Whale also has the largest mouth of any animal on Earth.