For six months of the year it lies in darkness, the sun never rises above the horizon and the temperatures stay below – 30C.
The Arctic Circle is a land of ice and snow, extreme temperatures and conditions not suitable for human habitation, and yet there are creatures that find these conditions perfect for their needs.
Polar bears roam the icepacks and shorelines, looking for seals, their favourite food. But they will make a meal of anything, after-all they are the top predator in this world.
During the brief summer months it’s a spectacle to see, the sun never sets and the abundance of wildlife is staggering. Millions of migratory birds come here to nest and lay their eggs, which attracts the opportunity predators like the arctic fox, mink, martin and weasels.
Large herds of Muskox call this land home twelve months of the year, and their thick fur insulates them through all but the coldest conditions.
The most amazing site to witness is the spring and fall migration of the caribou herds from the low lying areas to the higher elevations in the spring, and the reverse move in the fall. These herds can number in the hundreds of thousands and attract the top predators like the Arctic wolf, and grizzly bears.
All of this is sitting on vast deposits of oil, both on land and under the Arctic ocean, and Beaufort Sea. The Beaufort Sea is a shallow sea, and provides an opportunity for oil exploration companies to develop drilling platforms that can be moved around to various locations and sunk onto the sea floor, providing a stable platform on which drilling rigs can operate from.
We had numerous opportunities to travel to this land at the top of the world, on assignments for various corporations and government research departments. Summer months were wonderful, many days would find us out in a zodiac boat at 2AM in the morning, under sunny skies and perfect conditions. The same could not be said for the winter months where the sun and temperatures never rose and conditions were harsh, to say the least.
We even had an opportunity to stand on the North Pole, and of course, watch our compass spin around and around. It was actually quite disappointing, just a series of ice pressure ridges, amidst a sea of snow and ice, sprinkled with numerous flags from around the globe.
No matter what the conditions, I would recommend it as a destination to anybody, it is one of the last frontiers left on this planet.