GREENLANDIC MARINE ANIMALS
The whales tend to steal the limelight when we talk about marine animals in Greenland, and perhaps not without reason, because they are easy to spot from small expedition cruise ships and coastal sailings on domestic passenger ships.
Jumping humpback whales, killer whales on hunting sprees and fast narwhals that zip in between cracks in the sea ice are just some of the whales, which also include mink whales, beluga whales, blue whales, sperm whales, fin whales and, of course the Greenland whale.
But the sea also has a number of seal species of which the harbor seal, the hooded seal, the bearded seal, the Greenland seal, and the polar bear’s favorite food, the ringed seal, are among the most common.
Among the big boys in the class, we find the walrus, which can weigh up to a ton. With tusks that are up to 50 centimeters long, it’s hard to miss this beast, when resting on an ice flow can seem somewhat on the slow and heavy side. In the water however, the walrus is an agile swimmer, mostly feeding on snails and clams.
In addition, there is a wide variety of fish and shellfish, some of the most important are cod, shrimp, crab, halibut, redfish, lumpfish, salmon and the Arctic char, coveted by anglers. They are all part of a larger food chain, which also includes human beings in Greenland. Today fishing is a main source of income for Greenland.
In the smaller less wild part of Greenland’s wildlife, we have a number of domesticated species that play a significant role in our hunting and agricultural culture.
Sled dogs arrived in Greenland, along with our earliest ancestors more than 4,000 years ago, and they have, up until a few decades ago, been used as a means for transportation and mobility in winter everywhere in Greenland, except in the southwestern part of the country. Today, the sled dogs are part of the choice of possibilities we have when moving around in the winter landscape, and they have become a focal point of our winter tourism.
In the south of Greenland, a thousand year old, farming tradition still makes use of horses as draft animals and for collecting the sheep that roam freely in the mountains surrounding the farms.
A modern twist to the picture of animals in Greenland is the emergence of pets in the larger cities. Small breed dogs, cats, hamsters, chinchillas and subtropical birds like canaries. Sure, the wildlife is diverse in Greenland.