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Wildlife - Fauna (Birds, mammals)

Most ani­mal spe­ci­es in Spits­ber­gen are birds, most­ly sea­b­irds. All­tog­e­ther, about 30 bird spe­ci­es are regis­tered as regu­lar bree­ders in Spits­ber­gen (Green­land: 60, for com­pa­ri­son), in addi­ti­on comes a lar­ger num­bers of more or less regu­lar or rare vagrants. The most nume­rous bird is the Litt­le auk (alle alle), also the Brunich’s Guil­lemot is bree­ding in huge colo­nies. The­re are dif­fe­rent gulls: com­mon is for instance the Kit­ty­wa­ke (Ris­sa tri­dac­ty­la) as well as three Skuas (Arc­tic skua and the rarer Poma­ri­ne skua and Long-tail­ed skua). The Nort­hern ful­mar (Ful­ma­rus gla­cia­lis) is a com­mon sight as well as the Com­mon eider (Soma­te­ria molis­si­ma), as oppo­sed to the rare King eider. Three geese spe­ci­es are bree­ding regu­lar­ly (Bar­na­cle goo­se, Pink-foo­ted goo­se and Brent goo­se). The­re is a num­ber of smal­ler waders and shorebirds such as the Grey phalar­o­pe, Pur­p­le sand­pi­per etc. Red throated divers are bree­ding near small tun­dra lakes. One of the rarest birds is the Ross’ gull, which I have seen only once in 10 years. Espe­cial­ly ear­ly in the sea­son, you will often be atta­cked by the aggres­si­ve Arc­tic tern (keep your distance from the colo­nies in flat tun­dra ter­rain and never try to hit the birds!).

Birds

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

The mam­ma­li fau­na has few spe­ci­es only. The only real land mam­mal is the Sval­bard rein­de­er, which you can find on most islands of the archi­pe­la­go. The Arc­tic fox is often fol­lowing the polar bear in the drift ice, espe­cial­ly in the win­ter. The mari­ne mam­mal fau­na has more spe­ci­es, inclu­ding also the high­ly migra­ti­ve polar bear, of which the­re are several 1000 in the Sval­bard-Franz-Josef-Land area. The Wal­rus, ano­t­her cha­rac­ter ani­mal of the high Arc­tic, was almost extinct in Spits­ber­gen in the 1950s, but is slow­ly reco­vering. The­re is a num­ber of other seal spe­ci­es, in near-coas­tal waters first of all Bear­ded seal and Rin­ged seal. Several mam­mal spe­ci­es such as Musko­xen and  Sno­wy hare have been intro­du­ced in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, but went extinct again. 

Mam­mals

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

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last modification: 2019-01-31 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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