What animals can you see in Svalbard? This is pretty much the million dollar question, as well as one that often disappoints as much as it impresses people. Here there then is our guide to what animals you will certainly see in abundance, as well as ones you will see a bit less.
To read if Svalbard is a country click here.
The Artic and Antarctica are different
North pole, south pole, all the same right? Well not so much so. People really confuse both, but to some up Antarctica is a content, while the Arctic is sea, and bench of inhospitable islands.
To read if Antarctica is a country click here.
From an animal point of view do not go to Antarctica expecting polar bears, and do not go to the Arctic seeking penguins.
What animal will you see most on Svalbard and the artic?
Aside from annoying birds swarming after your ship like vultures at is all about reindeer. These though are wild and free reindeer with very few being hunted. You can get up close and personal, although they are just reindeer. If you are picturing what Santa might have rode on you will be disappointed. These are not the same.
These are also animals that you will see even in Longyearbyen, big capital city of Svalbard. They tend to be fairly friendly and not that scared of humans.
To read our guide to Longyearbyen click here.
Will you see Polar Bears in Svalbard?
Keeping in mind that residents of Svalbard are allowed to carr rifles because of these big bears you’d expect to find them everywhere. Alas you do not. This is because of globular warming. If you not believe in global warming take it up with Greta…….
To read about Greta Thunberg click here.
We personally only saw 3 polar bears and from a distance. It was though a wonderful thing, as you will see from our photos.
Are there seals and walruses in the Arctic
These are two animals you will se in relative abundance, and if you re really lucky you will see a polar bear rip one apart. We did not see that. We did though find a lot of seals chilling on the ice.
I am the walrus? We went to one fabulous island that had a whole walrus colony and got pretty close to it. Did it stink? It most certainly did me lord! A very fun place though. You will not see these in Longyearbyen in general.
Whale watching in Svalbard
We were lucky enough to literally have a full day whale watching with a bunch of friendly whales of different species from mink to beluga escorting us and literally playing with the ship.
This though is pot luck and cannot be relied upon. If you are lucky though it is truly amazing.
There are lots of birds in Svalbard
I wont go into the wide array of different birds that you can see in Svalbard as it runs into so many, but they are very cool and if you are on a cruise they will be explained and pointed out to you.
Again something else that offers great opportunities for nature photographers, as our pictures show.
Will you see people in Svalbard?
You will not see many, nor even the remnants of them, which makes it very different from Antarctica, or even Greenland. There are though places such as Pyramidian that can be visited, sanctions not withstanding.
To read about Pryamidien click here.
Manage your expectations!
Overall and this is the most important thing, manage your expectations. This is not Disney, nor is it a nature park. We heard one American lady complain that she only saw 3 polar bears, well sweets go to the zoo. We can try to see as much nature as we can, but global warming is a thing and polar bears do not work for the cruise line.
So what animals can you see in Svalbard? Quite a few, but there frequency indeed varies.
We are currently planning a 2023 to Svalbard, in the meantime check out our 2022 trip to Antarctica.