We have many unique animals and birds, which either live in the Arctic year-round or migrate during the warmer months to feed, breed and nest at the top of the world. Our wildlife is not only beautiful to see, but essential to our hunting culture, food security and economy.
Seals are an important food source, with skins also used for clothing. And where seals are found, polar bears follow. We also hunt polar bears, according to an internationally recognized system of management quotas, and reserve some of our quota for sports hunters. We eat the meat, while we sell skins or use them for traditional winter clothing.
A community quota for musk ox also provides us with meat, while the hide, horns and fur are sold or used.
Beluga and narwhal, which are often called the unicorns of the Arctic, migrate past Grise Fiord and hunted according to a quota system, too. Their muktuk or blubber is a local delicacy. Collectors and artists also value the narwhal's unusual ivory tusks.
In spring, you can see walrus, beluga, narwhal, guillemots, murres, seals and even polar bears at the floe edge where the sea ice meets open water, about 50 kilometres east of the community.
In July or August, it's not unusual to spot walrus swimming right by the community as they dive for clams.
By late May, many species of birds return to nest in the area of Grise Fiord. Along the fiords, just eight kilometres north of the community, you'll find seagulls by the thousands.
In June, snow geese, king eiders, and eider ducks, among others, arrive on the scene. From April right through the summer, you'll spot snow buntings and rock ptarmigan throughout southern Ellesmere Island.
Canada geese, Brant geese, Arctic terns, snow buntings, jaegers, Snow geese and gyrfalcon also spend part of the year around Grise Fiord. Ravens are common sights year-round in the community.
About 100 km southeast of Grise Fiord is Nirjutiqavvik National Wildlife Area, encompassing Coburg Island and the surrounding waters. This area is considered one of the most important nesting areas for seabirds in the Canadian Arctic.