The Arctic Ocean is the smallest of the world’s oceans. Still, it covers over nine million square kilometres and has an average depth of 1,330 metres.
The Arctic is almost completely surrounded by three continents. Canada is just one of eight countries that border the Arctic. The others are Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
Dominated by ice cover, the Arctic Ocean is home to just one tenth as much marine life as other great bodies of salt water, yet it supports a complex food system. Arctic ice is so vast in winter that a polar bear could walk almost 1,000 kilometres from Greenland to Norway’s Svalbard Islands. Polynyas, areas of open water surrounded by ice, provide critical habitat for migrating waterfowl. In addition to polar bears, Arctic waters are home to many different species of whales, seals, fish and waterfowl.
Marine transportation in the Arctic is largely made up of seasonal tug and barge operations. A fleet of Canadian Coast Guard Icebreakers supports extended operations in the Arctic and the Canadian Armed Forces patrol the Arctic with Aurora and Arcturus aircraft. A variety of surface, subsurface and airborne surveillance equipment is also used to monitor activity in the forbidding Arctic Waters.
The Port of Churchill, located on the west coast of Hudson’s Bay, is Canada’s northernmost port and provides links to the Atlantic and Arctic from July until November.