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Hurtigruten Group

Wildlife in North America

Most of North America’s wildlife are concentrated and protected in its sizeable national parks. Our expeditions here visit four of them. Each is a home for rare and iconic animals.

4 mins read

On the Pacific coast of the USA, Redwood National and State Parks in California and Olympic National Park near Seattle both share similar populations of wildlife. Acadia National Park is on the other side of the country to the east in Maine. Torngat Mountains National Park is further still, found in the upper reaches of Canada’s province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ancient trees

The Redwood National and State Park is located along the coast of northern California. As the name implies, the main draw here are the towering redwood trees. These are some of the tallest, oldest, and largest tree species on Earth. These natural skyscrapers create a home for a range of wildlife, including rare species like the northern spotted owl and the northern sea lion.

Roosevelt elks can sometimes be glimpsed roaming the forest, and you may also encounter black-tailed deer, river otters, and black bears. Smaller mammals, such as bats, red squirrels and northern flying squirrels are also not uncommon, as well as northern red-legged frogs, giant salamanders, and rough-skinned newts.

Gem of the Evergreen State

In Washington state on the USA’s east coast, nicknamed the Evergreen State, Olympic National Park to the west of Seattle is its crown jewel. Here, you might glimpse Columbia black-tailed deer, snowshoe hares, mountain goats and cute Olympic marmots. The park is the habitat for 300 species of birds, including the iconic all-American bald eagle. Black bears can be seen roaming the land for sweet berries and in the water, you’ll find a rich marine life that is home to adorable sea otters, huge sea lions and magnificent gray whales.

Bear necessities

Black bears are the only bear species found outside the Arctic and western regions of North America, and the only bear in Nova Scotia and parts of California. They are known to approach settled areas for easy food sources like beehives, agricultural crops, and even garbage. They stand about one-metre-high at the shoulder and can weigh up to 200 kilogrammes.

National treasure on the Atlantic

In Acadia National Park in Maine, you’ll find towering forests, wildflowers, rugged shores, hidden caves, and miles and miles of exciting hiking trails. Exploring the park, you might see black bears, white-tailed deer, playful raccoons, skunks, otters, foxes and if you’re lucky – the occasional moose.

This park has over 300 bird species that range from eagles and hawks to falcons and warblers. There is also rich marine life with seals, dolphins, and whales along the coast of Mount Desert Island. If you’re more of a reptile lover, you’re in luck: there are a variety of salamanders, toads, and frogs to spot in the crisp pine forest.

Air bags for deft divers

The Brown Pelican can often be seen dramatically dive-bombing into the waters below for fish, plummeting from as high as 65-70 feet. They can do this repeatedly and come out unfazed due to the friction-reducing angles of 60 or 90 degrees at which they dive. This is also thanks to special air sacs under their skin which inflate during the dive, cushioning the impact and protecting internal organs.

‘Place of Spirits’

Torngat Mountains National Park is a Canadian national park located on the Labrador Peninsula in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Its name comes from the Inuktitut word “Tongait”, meaning “place of spirits”. The park’s vision is to protect its wildlife and give them a place to live in peace.

Naturally, the polar bears that prowl the park’s glorious landscape are right at home. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to witness the grandeur of this powerful animal in its natural habitat. Caribous are also found here, often in small groups or herds.

Covered in scars

Humpback whales are visible in the coastal waters of Nova Scotia from April to June or August to October as they migrate between polar and tropical seas. The grey whale is often seen off the Oregon coast and is characterised by grey-white patterns on its skin, which are in fact scars left by parasites which drop off once the whale migrates to colder feeding grounds.

Other stories

Penguins perched on the ice of Cuverville Island, Antarctica. Credit: Espen Mills / HX Hurtigruten Expeditions

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