The Arctic Ocean is one of the most productive places on earth for wildlife, but there is much we have yet to learn about this ecosystem.
A view from the deck of the Coast Guard icebreaker the Healy on an Arctic research trip. Photo: Melanie Smith
The Arctic Ocean is one of the most productive places on earth for wildlife, but there is much we have yet to learn about this ecosystem. Although the weather is harsh in the winter, with gale-force winds, 20-foot seas, and shifting sea ice, these waters provide unspoiled habitat for millions of migratory birds and thousands of marine mammals, including polar bears, ice seals, endangered bowhead whales, and Pacific walrus. What's the Arctic Ocean like throughout the summer? Find firsthand accounts from field researchers, underwater sound recordings, and more on Audubon Alaska's Vital Arctic Ocean Areas Storymap. We are still learning about the intricate interactions between wildlife and the ocean in these remote waters. With so much still unknown, it is difficult to even assess the risks involved in drilling offshore for oil and gas.