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Editorial

Endangered Arctic Animals

The list of endangered animals in Canada is long:

456 as of 2013, over 40 per cent of which face imminent extinction.

While these animals make their home in every province and territory, some of the reasons for their decline — including climate change and habitat destruction — are easiest to observe in the Arctic. For example, scientists note that temperatures near the North Pole are rising twice as fast as the rest of the world, meaning sea ice — a crucial competent to Arctic ecosystems — is rapidly disappearing. Meanwhile, the Inuit are observing changes in animal migration patterns and population numbers, both of which affect their traditional hunting practices.

This exhibit highlights six of the animals struggling to adapt to changes in the Arctic: the polar bear, caribou, narwhal, bowhead whale, beluga and walrus. Images by internationally-renowned photographer Paul Nicklen introduce each of the animals, while excerpts from The Canadian Encyclopedia provide information on each species’ specific challenges. To complete the series, Yellowknife-based journalist Ashleigh Gaul pays tribute to the walrus hunt, making the connection between the loss of animal habitat and the loss of Inuit culture.