An incredible distance of 3,500km (2,000 miles) was recently traversed by an arctic fox. The snow fox made it from Norway to Canada in only 76 days, astounding researchers at the Norwegian Polar Institute.
In July 2017, a tacking device was placed on this magnificent animal also known as the white fox, blue fox, or coastal fox. It departed Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago island in northern Norway on the 26th of March 2018. Three weeks and just over 1,500km later, the fox had reached Greenland. It then carried on with its trek to eventually arrive at Ellesmere Island in Canada on the 1st of July. One of the researchers who tracked the fox, Eva Funglei, said, “We first did not believe it was true”.
Could the tracking collar have been removed?
The institute stated in their research paper entitled “One female’s long run across sea ice” that this amazing creatures expedition was on of the longest ever documented. The researchers considered the possibility that the fox’s collar might have been removed and taken on board a ship because the fox’s journey was so unbelievably long. “But no, there are no boats that go so far up in the ice. So we just had to keep up with what the fox did,” said Funglei.
Rate of travel
The collar sent data every day over a three hour period. Voyaging across sea ice and glaciers, the fox covered an average distance of 46.3km each day, and on one day in particular, it travelled a massive 155km when it was on a sheet of ice north of Greenland.
“The sea ice plays a key role in the fact that mountain foxes will migrate between areas, meet other populations, and find food,” said Fuglei. For the researchers, this was the first time the migration of this species has been extensively documented between continents and ecosystems in the Arctic region.
Another factor of global warming
The fox’s trip has brought up concern over the effects of climate change on the sea ice and how it might affect the migration abilities of animals. “This is another example of how important sea ice is to wildlife in the Arctic,” said Norway’s climate and environment minister, Ola Elvestuen. “The warming in the north is frighteningly fast. We must cut emissions quickly to prevent the sea ice from disappearing all summer.”