10 Arctic Facts

This year we are celebrating our 15th seasons of exploring the European Arctic. Find out why you should explore this region!

European Arctic1. Polar bears are only found in the Arctic and are the largest land predators on Earth. The largest polar bear ever recorded was a male weighing 1,004 kg and was four meters long

2. Despite being the smallest of the 5 Oceans, the Arctic Ocean covers about 14 million square kilometres, and is frozen for most of the year.

3. Today, the Arctic region is home to almost 4 million people, a majority of which are non-indigenous settlers. Indigenous people make up roughly 10% of the population of the Arctic and they continue to carry out traditional activities while adapting to the modern way of life.

4. Iceland is a hot spot of volcanic and geothermal activity. 30 post-glacial volcanoes have erupted in the past two centuries, and natural hot water supplies much of the population with cheap, pollution-free heating.

5. Outside Antarctica, Greenland has the second largest ice cap in the world. 85% of the country is covered by inland ice, which rise up to 3000 m above sea level.

6. In Longyearbyen, Svalbard, at 78° north, for 125 days from mid April until mid August, the sun never fully sets creating the ‘midnight sun’.

7. Polar bears actually have black skin. the polar bear's coat is made of clear, colorless hairs. The hairs scatter light, making it appear white (or sometimes yellow, depending upon the angle of the sun). The bears' black skin absorbs the heat from the sun and the six-inch layer of fat under their skin insulates them from the extreme cold of the Arctic circle.

8. Penguins do NOT live in the Arctic, you’ll need to head south to see them!

9. You can go sea kayaking with expert guides and paddle amongst glaciers and icebergs of Spitsbergen, Greenland and Iceland’s coast.

10. The scientific name for walrus, Odobenus rosmarus, means “toothwalkers”. Walrus can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes. Walrus have extra blood to carry oxygen which makes up about 12 percent of their weight, compared to seven percent in humans.

Jewels of the Arctic - 10th August and 2 September 2011

(14 days from AUD$7655 including ship accommodation, all meals onboard, all shore excursions, lectures, medical services, port charges and taxes)

This adventure combines the best of Spitsbergen and Greenland, with a taste of Iceland. Cross from Spitsbergen’s rugged northwest coast over the Greenland Sea to fantastic icebergs and the fairytale landscape of granite spires rising 2000 m above the fjords. Be welcomed by local Inuits and learn some of the trade secrets of their culture.

Dr Paul Willis will accompany Aurora Expeditions’ ‘Geology Insight’ voyage, interpreting the remarkable natural wonders of volcanoes, the world’s largest fjords and rocks that are over 600 million years old. Dr Paul Willis is a renowned palaeontologist, geologist and regular science reporter on the ABC TV show Catalyst. Join him on a voyage filled with entertaining tales and a wealth of knowledge on Arctic geology. Paul has just returned from Antarctica after collecting fragments of a meteorite he discovered last year.

Dr Paul Willis will be accompanying the “Jewels of the Arctic “voyage, departing 2nd September 2011.

Spitsbergen Odyssey – 11 July, 21 July and 31 July 2011

(11 days from AUD$6080 including ship accommodation, all meals onboard, all shore excursions, lectures, medical services, port charges and taxes)

Explore the home of the polar bear. There are no open sea crossings on this discovery voyage where you’ll find deep fjords, mysterious desert mountains and seals and whales in the Arctic pack ice. This voyage offers the best chance for finding polar bears and features wildflower walks, trapper camps and historical remains of whaling stations. Avid divers will love the inaugural arctic scuba dives which begin on this voyage on 31 July 2011.