Canada's Arctic marine atlas surveys a spectacular region at risk

18 September 2018

The Last Ice Area Arctic Climate Change Canada Wildlife Communities Beaufort, Bering & Chukchi Seas Ocean

Oceans North, Ducks Unlimited Canada and World Wildlife Fund-Canada are thrilled to release Canada’s Arctic Marine Atlas, a 122-page publication that relies on the latest data to describe an extraordinary ecosystem undergoing dramatic shifts due to climate change.

The atlas provides a comprehensive overview of how humans and the species they depend on are faring in this changing environment. Set against the backdrop of diminishing sea ice, the atlas compiles complex scientific information into an accessible volume that can be read in English, French or Inuktitut.

“We’re pleased to offer this first-of-its-kind resource to help educate Canadians about the Arctic marine environment,” said Louie Porta, vice-president of operations for Oceans North. “Fact-based conservation measures are essential to ensuring a healthy Arctic Ocean for generations to come.”

Starting with a focus on Inuit and their reliance on the ocean for hunting and travel, the atlas discusses industrial development and conservation management efforts in Canada’s North. Subsequent chapters survey species ranging from cold-water corals to bowhead whales and describe the region’s physical oceanography and biosphere, from the bottom of the food chain up through fish, birds and marine mammals.

“Arctic ecosystems are experiencing increasing pressure from both the effects of climate change and development,” said Leslie Bogdan, director of B.C. regional operations for Ducks Unlimited Canada. “Scientific research and knowledge transfer are critical to ensuring that careful planning and conservation measures can be implemented by Indigenous communities, governments and industry.”

The atlas includes seven chapters with a total of 67 images, 64 maps, 33 scientific illustrations and three food-web graphics. Oceans North and its partners hope that the atlas will support conservation efforts to protect this spectacular Arctic ecosystem.

“The Arctic is undergoing rapid change, attracting attention from nations and corporations eyeing its business potential,” said Paul Crowley, head of Arctic conservation for WWF-Canada. “We have an opportunity here to get it right, and that starts with understanding the marine environment through the eyes of the people who rely on it and the wildlife that make it home.”