Aloha Matt,

So I am guessing that caribou are native to that area, or no? Also, what species of seal are found? Lastly, so is the sea ice becoming seasonal instead of a constant? Are the animal species impacted from that?

Thank you for all your hard work. I DO know that science is hard work and I am cheering for you from the sidelines. Keep it up, you will cherish your memories when you return.

warmly,

Maggie

Matt Moore

Hi, Maggie The reindeer are native and a subspecies of the caribou. Their scientific name is Rangifer tarrandus platyrhynchus. They are more closely related to Canadian caribou then they scandanavian reindeer, although the caribou in Norh America are considerably taller and larger. Svalbard reindeer are short and stout and are lounging about Longyearbyen right now as I write this, much like the elk in yellowstone hanging around mammouth hotsprings (no hot springs here, though). They have no predators (polar bears do not hunt them. Too much work to ambush or sprint after deer. There is a well regulated hunting season and their numbers are also occasionally knocked back by infection of parasitic nemotode worms in their gut.
There are many seals in the waters around Svalbard. They are: Ringed seal, Bearded seal, Harbour seal, Harp seal, Hooded seal. There are also walrus in the waters around Svalbard. Lastly, the sea ice is indeed becomming seasonal and in some fjords, like isfjord, it has been absent for two years now. This is a growing trend in other places in the Arctic Ocean as well. The pictures on my photo gallery of sea ice were taken in 2005, by researcher Steve Roof. According to Steve and researchers at UNIS, sea ice is becomming the exception rather than the norm in these parts.
Matt

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