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Ecological Framework of Canada
Arctic Basin Marine Ecozone


  1. Polar bear

Thanks to phytoplankton and algal blooms, some higher animal species manage to eke out a living in this hostile environment and have adapted to life on or near the permanent ice pack. Life tends to be truly on the edges here. Along the more southerly borders of this ecozone live Walrus, Polar Bears, Beluga Whales, Narwhals, and Bearded, Harp, Ringed and Harbour Seals. Migratory birds pass through the ecozone, and a hardy arctic survivor, the bold and aggressive Ivory Gull, lives year-round here. This bird will eat anything it can find, including fish, crustaceans, and dead whales and seals. The remains of a seal killed by a Polar Bear provide a rare bonanza.

Life is present beneath the ice, but it is sparse compared with warmer waters. About 130 species of fish occur across the Arctic. The greatest numbers occur in the west and south, with schools of Arctic Cod and Ogac, Arctic Char, Sculpin, Eelpout, and Snailfish the most common. It is estimated that half the living creatures in the Arctic are benthic, or bottom-dwelling, organisms such as anemones, clams, sea worms and sea stars. But even today, little research has been carried out, and little is known about these creatures other than that they are crucial to the Arctic food web.