The longest and most interesting polar journey in recent memory took place last year and no one noticed until recently. That’s because that epic expedition wasn’t undertaken by a human. Instead, it was a lone Arctic fox that set out on an incredible excursion that took him from Norway to Canada, crossing 2142 miles (3447 km) in just 76 days.
Yesterday, the story broke that a one year old Arctic fox has left researchers “speechless” by her grueling and truly wild journey. The fox was first caught and outfitted with a GPS tracking collar last year on the Norwegian island of Svalbard. At the time, she wasn’t even one year old yet. In March of 2018, she started her trek however, heading north, deeper into the Arctic before turning across the frozen ice pack, eventually making her way to Greenland. That leg of the trip took about 21 days to complete, covering roughly 1000 miles (1600 km) in the process. But that wasn’t the end of the little fox’s hike as she just kept going, crossing even more open sections of the frozen Arctic Ocean before covering another 1242 miles (1998 km) as she arrived on Ellesmere Island in Canada. That required an additional 55 days to complete, meaning she averaged a little over 28 miles per day, day in and day out, through some of the most difficult and demeaning environments on the planet.
What motivated the fox to leave her home in Norway and head to Canada is unknown. In fact, researchers had assumed she has been killed at that the GPS tracking was from the collar that was most likely aboard a boat. Later they learned that no boats were in the area and that she had been found alive in Canada. It was a stunning bit of news to say the least.
What’s more amazing, is that the fox’s collar stopped transmitting in February of this year, so the team isn’t exactly sure where she is at now. Perhaps she’s still on her trek, continuing to push further west. Who knows, maybe she’s looking to circumnavigate the globe and will just keep going until she’s back in Norway. The team that had been following her progress says that she may have trouble finding food in Canada however, as she’s use to eating a diet that consists mainly of marine creatures. On Ellesmere the foxes tend to eat mice, lemmings, and other small animals. Whether or not she can adapt to that environment remains to be seen.
This story was one that definitely captivated the outdoor world. The fox’s impressive journey is one for the record books for sure, but it makes you wonder what else we don’t know about the creatures we share this big blue marble with.
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