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What Makes The Floe Edge A Marine Wildlife Hub

May 29, 2020

Why is the floe edge known as one of the most exciting places to view Arctic wildlife? What even is the floe edge?

Join us as we explore some of the top reasons this place where the sea-ice meets the open ocean is so breathtaking and creates a cycle of life the stirs marine animals of all sizes to the water’s edge.

Find out why our Narwhal & Polar Bear, A Floe Edge Safari is one of the greatest chances to visit the pristine landscapes and exciting Arctic wildlife.


What Is The Floe Edge?

Simply put, it’s the spot where the sea-ice reaches out from the shoreline and meets the open ocean.

Sometimes it can stretch a great distance from the shore, and places like Eclipse Sound, the sea-ice only opens into a floe edge when it meets the open water of Baffin Bay.

The ice you stand on becomes a frozen platform to sit and watch migrating narwhal or perhaps beluga swim by as they feed and bob or swim past. You may even have them socialize right at the water’s edge.



It is different from an open lead or a crack in the ice that can open in wide channels.

The floe edge is the place that the ice shelf, as a solid platform, ends forming an edge almost like a frozen shoreline.

This allows animals to gather in larger groups and often becomes where the migrating whales will pass parallel to as they move into summer feeding grounds. They look for opens in the floe edge to move into narrower channels.




Why Does It Bring So Much Sea Life?

This remarkable ecosystem is so active due to a mixture of solar energy and a circle of life that brings more and more marine life looking for a springtime feast.

When the Sun begins to emerge for longer each day through the spring days, it starts to rejuvenate life with its solar energy.

Algae that spent the winter clinging to the bottom of the sea-ice are finally being reached with sun rays. As the heat melts the edge of the ice allowing more energy to penetrate the layers of ice to concentrate on these organisms, this buzzing energy bumps them off the bottom of the ice.


This ignites a cycle of prey that brings crustaceans that eat the microorganisms, that bring Arctic fish, that bring Arctic whales, and that then bringing polar bears.

The floe edge becomes this extraordinary wildlife hub when the conditions are good. It’s almost the Arctic version of the plains of Africa getting their rainfalls and becoming alive with animals.




Why Is It Exciting To Visit?

Imagine standing on a frozen platform watching narwhal bobbing and socializing as their tusks gently caress each other.

narwhals tusks

If the migrating whales haven’t appeared yet we may drop an underwater microphone and listen for the growing squeaks and whistles of arriving whales.

There is something remarkably refreshing about this pristine destination. Sitting on this natural sea-ice platform looking out to the Arctic Ocean, the mountains and glaciers of Bylot Island on one side and the stunning peaks of Baffin Island on the other.

Taking the idea of the African safaris, Arctic Kingdom has brought comfort and gourmet food to the Canadian Arctic. Enjoy delicious gourmet food from our expert chefs while spending restful nights in comfortably heated spacious tents.

Travel on traditional Inuit sleds pulled by Inuit guides on snowmobiles. Our expert Expedition Leader will ensure you are informed on the day’s activity and wildlife behaviours. The Inuit guides apply their years of wildlife experience to find fantastic viewing locations to watch and photograph the wildlife once they appear!

Our land-based trips mean that we ride along the ice to locations rather than motors in the water. This allows us to get to incredible positions and our smaller group sizes mean that there is always a fantastic position to get into without crowds.


How Do You Get There?

Traveling on our Narwhal & Polar Bear, A Floe Edge Safari takes you to the floe edge in northeastern Baffin Island. Once you’ve landed in the community of Pond Inlet, Nunavut, you immediately look out to stunning views of the soaring mountain peaks of Bylot Island. See a glacier spilling down into Eclipse Sound.

Eclipse Sound is the frozen channel between Bylot Island and Baffin Island. You will travel by sled from the community for a few hours up the frozen channel, taking you past towering icebergs frozen into place with panoramic views, before arriving at your Arctic safari camp.

The camp is located at a safe distance from the floe edge but each day you will travel by sled to wildlife viewing locations at the water’s edge as you wait for breathtaking opportunities to see migrating whales like narwhal and maybe belugas.




What Else Can You Experience On This Trip?

Enjoy longer days under the Midnight Sun. The coming spring means that the sun is staying in the sky longer and later. This means you have longer days to have potentially more wildlife opportunities. Evenings can host a nearly endless sunset as a soft hue holds the night’s sky.

You will be surrounded by some of the most magnificent views on Earth. The Arctic is often considered one of the last true wildernesses and the pristine views of snow-capped mountains and glaciers. The open space and charming quiet may make it hard to leave!

Don’t forget, we call this trip a narwhal and polar bear safari. There’s a good chance you’ll spot a lumbering polar bear. Our Inuit guides will offer safe but amazing photography and viewing breaks if a bear appears.

It’s important to remember that the spirit of adventure means realizing that the weather is out of our hands and that wild animals will appear when they choose to, but our decades of experience means you are likely to have a fantastic safari.

As the global leader in Arctic safaris, few people know the Arctic as well as we do. That is why we will take you to the same locations that we bring wildlife documentary productions. Having coordinated the logistics for BBC’s Frozen Planet, Disney’s Oceans, and others, we will get you to the same or similar locations as the film crews.

If you bring or rent a longer camera lens, you’ll be amazed at the photos you can get. All of the photos we use to promote this trip are taken by guests or our Expedition Leader, meaning you can have shots like this too!

If you are still wondering why we keep returning to the floe edge for so many years, give a look at our quick video:




Experience The Arctic On A Safari

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

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

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



By: Mat Whitelaw