Baffin Island Walrus & Bowhead Whales

  1. 2018
    Friday, June 22, 2018 to Thursday, June 28, 2018
    Tour Duration: 
    7 days
    Tour Price:
     $5,975 CAD, $5,075 USD
    Tour Starts/Ends: 
    Igloolik, Nunavut
    + 5% GST for Canadians, + 2.5% GST for non-Canadians. Single rooms cannot be guaranteed at our hotel in Igloolik.
    Guide: 
    Number of Persons Limit: 
    8
Highlights
  • Watching walrus basking
  • Watching enormous bowhead whales moving along and under the sea ice
  • Traveling with Inuit through a beautiful environment of water and ice
  • Experiencing the arctic under the midnight sun
Overview

Far north, lies the domain of two truly awesome mammals – walrus and bowhead whales. Our search for these remarkable arctic residents takes us to Igloolik and the shores of the Foxe Basin in Nunavut, Canada.

The Foxe Basin and adjacent Baffin Island are areas rich in wildlife and where Inuit have lived for centuries. At this time of year, bowhead whales, weighing up to 100 tonnes, feed along the edge of the sea ice as they wait to move further north, and groups of walruses can be found basking in the sun on pieces of sea ice.

We travel with Inuit guides in search of these massive creatures plus ringed and bearded seals. We will also find a variety of northern birds, including Red Phalarope, Common Eider, Sabine’s Gulls, and Arctic Tern.  Photography should be superb with 24-hour warm arctic light, calm waters and a backdrop of gleaming ice.

Join us for a remarkable arctic wildlife experience on our Baffin Island Walrus and Bowhead Whales tour!

 

 

Itinerary View Short Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Igloolik 

Our Baffin Island Walrus & Bowhead whales tour begins today in Igloolik, Nunavut.  Participants will arrive on flights from Ottawa (via Iqaluit) or directly from Pond Inlet if they are connecting this tour to our Baffin Island Floe Edge: Narwhals & Polar Bears tour.  We meet for an evening meal and to discuss the upcoming adventure.  We should have a chance to meet our local guides and walk around the community of Igloolik after dinner as we have 24 hours of daylight!  Night at our hotel in Igloolik.

Days 2 to 6: Foxe Basin

We plan our 5 full-days of the tour around weather and ocean conditions.

The community of Igloolik sits on an island at the western edge of the Foxe Basin.  At this time of year there is open water very close to the island.  We set off from the edge of the ice by boat in search of walrus and bowhead whales.  Walrus are typically found resting on small pans of sea ice over relatively shallow water where they forage for clams on the ocean floor.  We will use the knowledge of our local guides to travel to the areas where we are most likely to find walrus.  Weighing up to 900 kg (2000 lbs), these are enormous animals and seeing them packed together on a piece of ice is impressive!

At the edge of the open water we find the ‘floe edge’, which is the border between the solid ‘fast’ sea ice and the water.  We travel along the floe edge in search of bowhead whales.  There is a whole ecosystem of phytoplankton and zooplankton underneath the ice and these whales feed along and under the ice.  We may even see them surfacing in small holes in the ice with just the ‘bow’ of their blowhole visible. 

Bowhead whales are enormous!  These arctic specialists can grow to 90,000 kg and are typically 15 m (50 ft) long, which means they are not one of the long slender whales – they have some girth to them.  Being present when they surface close by is a truly magical experience! 

Beyond our two large target mammals, there is plenty of other wildlife to enjoy.  Ringed and bearded seals are relatively common and there is an abundance of birds migrating and nesting in the area.  Over the water we are likely to see King and Common Eiders, Black Guillemots, Long-tailed Ducks, and Snow Geese.  Polar bears are very uncommon in this area, but there is a small chance we could find one. 

On small islands in Foxe Basin there are nesting Brant, Snow Geese, Red Phalarope, Arctic Tern, Sabine’s Gulls, and more.  These are sites where local Inuit hunt geese and eiders and collect their eggs.  

We anticipate being on the water looking for walrus, bowhead whales and other arctic wildlife four of these days.  If weather prevents us getting out on the water, we will spend some time exploring the community of Igloolik and the island.  Igloolik is one of the cultural centers of Nunavut and is home to the film production company that created the films Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner and The Journals of Knud Rasmussen among others.  In fact, our travels on the water may take us near the islands where Atanarjuat was exiled in the legend.  On the island, there are numerous ponds and some sod house archaeological sites worth exploring. 

Nights at our Igloolik hotel.

Day 7: Departure

Our Baffin Island Walrus & Bowhead Whales tour ends today.  We catch our flight south from Igloolik to Iqaluit in the morning and connect to a flight to Ottawa, arriving about 5 pm.  We part ways here with memories from an incredible Arctic experience.  

 

Map
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