Fantastic far-reaching foxtrot
Researchers at the Norwegian Polar Institute have tracked an Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) traversing three countries and two continents in just 76 days. The vixen, of the blue type typical in coastal areas, was fitted with a satellite tracking collar when just under a year old. It was tracked from 1 March to 1 July 2018, covering a total of 4,415 km (2,743 miles), a straight-line distance of 1,789 km (1,111 miles).
The fox left Spitsbergen, Norway, on 26 March 2018, crossed over Greenland, and reached Ellesmere Island, Canada, 76 days later, on 10 June. It moved an average of 46.3 km/day (29 miles/day), with a maximum recorded rate of 155 km (96 miles) per day—the fastest ever recorded for the species.
“The fox was travelling so fast, researchers couldn’t believe it at first. Eva Fuglei, one of the researchers, thought that perhaps the fox had been killed and brought aboard a boat.”1
The Arctic regions are seasonally bridged by sea ice, offering the potential for this long-distance journey. On two occasions the movement dropped to less than 10 km/day (6 miles/day), which “might indicate physical barriers on the sea ice, bad weather or the occurrence of a food source.”2
Repopulating the earth
This incredible intercontinental migration is a phenomenal demonstration of just how far and how fast animals can travel under the right conditions. After Noah’s Ark landed on the mountains of Ararat, the animals on board then dispersed across the world.
It is of course unlikely that the original pairs made such long journeys. Rather, most would have progressed by degrees—breeding and moving.3 But all migrations were aided during the early centuries after the Flood by the conditions provided by the Ice Age. Ice sheets helped to bridge certain areas, and more importantly, sea levels dropped drastically, exposing land bridges. This would have helped animals to rapidly recolonize the globe.
References and notes
- Bharti, B., An Arctic fox walked from Norway to Canada in just 76 days. That’s 3,500 km, three countries and two continents, nationalpost.com, 2 Jul 2019. Return to text.
- Fuglei, E., & Tarroux, A., Artic fox dispersal from Svalbard to Canada: one female’s long run across sea ice, Polar Research 38: 3512, 2019. Return to text.
- Robinson, P., The red blanket, Creation 40(3):12–13. Return to text.