Skip to content

Arctic Wildlife Behaviour: Photographing Wild Personalities

February 08, 2019

If you’re a photographer — professional or amateur, and if you want to capture that certain moment with wildlife, then you know the trick is to capture an experience that represents a personality. Finding the moment that’s funny or nurturing, curious or bizarre, or simply endearing.

Arctic Foxes

Knowing animal behaviour is the trick that will help find that ideal encounter. Whether you’re exploring Baffin Island’s coast on a whale watching tour, seeing an Arctic fox play, or a polar bear touring among glaciers and icebergs, here are some behaviours that you may get to witness in the Arctic.


Polar Bear: A nurturing mother

Imagine seeing polar bear cubs nestle up with their mother on top of a snowy iceberg. Observing a mother watching over curious cubs with a nurturing patience is an unforgettable experience in the early part of spring.

Polar bear mother watching over cubs

In these early days, as the cubs grow a little and gain more knowledge of their environment, they begin to mimic their mother as they learn her tactics of survival in the Arctic landscapes.

As summer comes, these bears hug the coastline and can be found swimming among icebergs or patrolling along the shoreline.

Polar bears at coastline during summer

This means if you want to see polar bear on Baffin Island with a snowy landscape, one option is in the early spring is our: Spring Polar Bears & Icebergs of Baffin Safari.



Or later in the year, a safari on land with trips along the coast via a small boat offers remarkable opportunities to observe and photograph polar bear in the Arctic on: Polar Bear & Glaciers of Baffin Island.




Narwhal: Migrating through narrow leads

With 75% of the world’s narwhal population migrating through Lancaster Sound, simply put, northern Baffin Island is the ideal place to see narwhal in the Arctic. In mid-spring (May & June) these whales make their way through waterways, like Navy Board Inlet, following seasonal feeding grounds. Thus, there is no better place to see narwhal.

During this time, one can experience the incredible behaviour of the narwhal’s migration. Finding a pod of narwhal emerging from leads and cracks in the ice is a photographer’s dream. Capturing close encounters as these whales demonstrate their remarkable ability to navigate narrow channels and show their social behaviours. Photographs of large pods of narwhal socializing and gently caressing tusks should fulfill any Arctic photographer’s buck-list.



For exciting and iconic narwhal encounters explore: Narwhal & Polar Bear Safari or Ultimate Floe Edge Explorer.


Beluga: The social singing whale

Truly a social animal, these are incredibly vocal and social whales. Belugas are called the ‘canary of the sea’ because of their many chirps and squeaks. Imagine hearing whales before you see them emerge from under the ice.

They’re also known to migrate alongside narwhal making the pods even larger. This means you’ll find them traveling around Baffin Island making their way into bays that had frozen over in winter.

Beluga whale migration

A large population of beluga make their way through Lancaster sound and past Navy Board Inlet each year on their annual migration. If you want to see beluga in the Arctic learn more about: Narwhal & Polar Bear Safari or Ultimate Floe Edge Explorer.



Bowhead: Summertime Molting

In 2012 a group of photographers on an Arctic Kingdom Polar Bear & Glaciers Safari discovered a new bowhead whale molting location, offering incredible photography opportunities.  They watched and took photos as the whales shed their dead skin by rubbing against rocks in a shallow bay.

bowhead whale molting location

This behaviour only happens once a year, making this an ideal time for bowhead whale tours. Known to be deep-water whales, it’s within the Arctic summertime when you can find these enormous mammals more likely to socialize as they exfoliate into a shiny fresh layer in the rocky shallows.



If you want to see this remarkable mammal try: Polar Bears & Glaciers of Baffin Island.


Arctic Fox: Changing Colour

Arctic fox also undergo a breath-taking metamorphosis in autumn as they shed their dark summer fur for its stunning white coat.

Arctic Fox - Changing Colour

Through this time photographers have captured incredible photos of Arctic fox part way through this phase offering a unique look at this iconic critter.

Arctic fox dark fur

What’s wonderful about Arctic fox is their curiosity. You can sometimes find them coming quite close as they sniff and study a motionless photographer. Our own Dave Briggs had a remarkable encounter on Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Safari:




Experience The Arctic On A Safari

Get chances to view elusive Arctic wildlife and experience the majesty of the Arctic on safaris year around. View all Arctic Safaris here.

Ready for adventure? Contact our Arctic Travel Advisors to book.

Are you still curious about all the wonders of the Arctic or looking for more interesting content explore more blogs here!


By: Mat Whitelaw