The Arctic Ocean: Hidden under permanent sea ice cover, awaits mystery and wonder concealed since time immemorial!
On the above satellite image of the Arctic we can see among other things, Greenland with its enormous glacial ice cap, Baffin Bay, Ellesmere Island and where the Longitude lines converge at the tip of the arrow head, the North Pole.
The Arctic Ocean is the smallest of the world's five oceans encompassing just over 14,000,000 sq. kilometres and 45,389 kilometres of coastline.
Its deepest point is the Fram Basin at 4,665 meters that's 15,305 feet or in maritime language 2,551 fathoms.
The permanent part of the ice cover on average is 10 feet thick with pressure ridges up to 30 feet thick.
During the Polar summer the ice pack melts and recedes around the land mass allowing the remaining section of sea ice cover to drift and move under the influence of the ocean's tidal movements.
At the peak of this ice melt usually in late September the ice pack loses approximately 50% of it's coverage area.
Below are two images from space showing opposite sides of the globe in September with the ice coverage receded and drifted unto the North American side of the Ocean.
There are two major maritime shipping routes that transit the Arctic Ocean.
One is known as the Northern Sea Route which cuts a path from the North Atlantic Ocean between the northwest coast of Norway and the Svalbard Islands across the north coast of Russia and Siberia to the Bearing Strait in the North Pacific.
The other is the Northwest Passage which is entered through the Davis Strait between Baffin Island and Greenland. Turns west between the north coast of Baffin Island and the south coast of Devon Island, follows south of the Queen Elizabeth Islands through the Parry Channel, crosses the Beaufort Sea, then on into the Bearing Strait and the North Pacific Ocean.
With the Polar ice cap receding more and more each year those maritime trade routes are becoming an increasingly attractive avenue to move goods from one side of the planet to the other.
Because of this in recent years there have been a renewed interest in the Polar region by all adjacent nations, and also many who are not adjacent but would benefit from faster trade routes and the regions vast untapped natural resources.
The Ocean is also alive with everything from microscopic organisms to massive whales and many other species. Those sea creatures find a comfortable habitat from the surface level to living many hundreds of meters in the dark abyss, under a massive ice sheet that cover's the region from 8 to 12 month's a year.
Including Dolphins and Porpoises there are 17 various types of whales that live in the Arctic Ocean for some or all of the year. We will look at some of these species here.
Other sea mammals that live in the Polar sea are Seals. Three common types found here are…
• Harp Seals
• Hooded Seals
• Ringed Seals
Another common sight on the ice flows and along the coastline are the massive Walrus with their ivory tusk's and fierce appearance.
In the depths of the ocean living in a very inaccessible world an assortment of fish live and thrive. Some of those fish are harvested commercially others have no commercial value. We will look at several of those species here.
• Greenland Halibut
• Greenland Shark
To the casual onlooker the Polar Oceanic Region may look like a frozen desert wasteland. But look a little deeper and you will see a place of awesome beauty and natural wonder. From massive icebergs carving from millennia old glaciers to climatic extremes that challenge animals and Polar explorers alike.
As you lay down to rest tonight, this northern ocean (depending on the time of year) may be in complete darkness, unending sunlight or some combination of both. Yet within it's boundaries a magnificent life cycle of incredible biodiversity will thrive in a region of epic extremes that most people in latitudes below the Arctic Circle can ever imagine.
Living a life of ultimate survival, in the land of breathtaking sunsets, at the top of the world!
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