Covering a whopping area of 663,000 square miles, Alaska is no doubt the biggest U.S. state. That's about two and a half times as huge as Texas. You can fit California into it four times, and still have thousands of square miles to spare. How about on foot? Say you'll go around its perimeter with the average human walking pace of 3.1 miles per hour. That means it'll take you about 2,296.45 hours, or almost 96 days!
Very impressive, right? But that's not all.
The long list of majestic wildlife and animals in Alaska is what makes it even more so. After all, the state's average population density is only 1.2 people per square mile. With that sparse a population, you can expect to see more magnificent flora and fauna than humans.
There are too many stunning creatures to list down, but here's eight you may encounter during your visit!
Ask anyone, "what animals live in Alaska?", and for sure the first answer you'll get is the same: bears. With Alaska being a "bear country," it's only natural to start this list with none other than these mammals.
The state bears (sorry) this title because all three North American bear species call it home. From black bears to brown (the grizzly included!) to polar bears, The Last Frontier is where you may see all them.
You can start your bear-viewing experience at the Katmai National Park. It's one of the state's national monuments and preservation grounds. That said, it's home to thousands of brown bears that you may even see feasting on salmon!
2. Red Foxes
Handsome is the most apt way to describe these wild animals in Alaska. They get their name from their reddish coat, with some even boasting a deep auburn red. Their colors go through certain phases though, so you may catch some donned in a silver coat!
The primary characteristic that distinguishes them from other foxes is their white-tipped tail. They have this distinct marking regardless of their coat's current color phase.
They're always on the hunt throughout the vast tundra of Alaska. Their diets comprise mostly of birds and rodents.
3. Dall Sheep
The Dall sheep, in all their white glory, only thrive in one other place aside from Alaska: Western Canada. These beautiful white-furred creatures have adapted to these areas' wind-swept, alpine conditions. To stay comfortable in the winter, these North American sheep grow their coats up to two inches thick. Both male and female Dall sheep have horns. The males (rams) have more prominent ones though, as theirs are massive and curled. Female Dall sheep (ewes) have shorter, slender horns that only have a slight curve. About 40% of the Dall sheep in Alaska live in the state's national parks. The National Park Service protects and monitors these Alaskan animals.
Although these aren't animals that live in Alaska alone, 750,000 of them roam the state's tundra, even in the middle of Alaska's largest city, Anchorage! The largest of the deer family, these awesome creatures can have antlers that span up to 5 feet and weigh over 65 pounds. T
5. Sitka Black-Tailed Deer
The Sitka black-tailed deer call both Alaska and British Columbia home. As their name suggests, their main distinctive characteristic is their black-tipped tail. They also have light reddish-brown summer coats, which turn darker brown in the winter.
Like their caribou cousins, the Sitka are also famous for their antlers. Granted, they have smaller antlers than other deer species, but they're still a sight to behold.
6. Black Oystercatchers
Large bodies, fiery orange to red bills, and flame-like yellow eyes make these birds not that hard to spot. Unfortunately, black oystercatchers are now considered a high-concern species. Their population has dropped to a low 11,000, making them one of North America's rarest shorebirds.
If you'll head to Kodiak Island and Katmai, you may catch these birds in swooping action. In fact, it's in Alaska that you have the highest chances of witnessing them. Two-thirds of their entire population is in Alaska.
7. Kodiak River Otter
The Kodiak River Otters are wild animals in Alaska you'll find in only one place in the state. As their name suggests, that area is the Kodiak Archipelago. The main difference they have with the North American River Otters is their smaller size. They also have slight differences when it comes to skull shape. But like their other river otter cousins, they can live both on land and in water.
Adventurous enough to brave Alaska's waters? If so, then get yourself on a charter vessel! It's one of the best ways to experience Alaska's diverse wildlife and ecology. This'll give you the chance to witness marine life, including various species of whales.
There are the dark-grey, sleek-bodied fin whales, for starters. If you're lucky enough, you may see them not only in pairs but in groups of six up to 10! These are some of the fastest great whale species, boasting up to 23 miles per hour of swimming speed.
If you spot a short, sleek, black-bodied whale with a pointed head, you may be looking at a minke whale. They may be smaller than other whales, but they're still large, with females measuring up to 8 meters. They're curious enough that they may approach your ship!
Whether your excursion is in the spring, summer, or fall, you may encounter humpback whales. If lady luck is on your side, you may see them in groups of up to 20, showing off their acrobatic skills to a lone female. The males are well-known for their eerie yet oddly-comforting songs, which can go on for 20 minutes.
Plan Your Trip for the Best Sightings of the Most Majestic Animals in Alaska
Again, there are too many amazing animals in Alaska to list down. After all, Alaska accounts for more than 17% of the entire land area of the United States. But the eight listed above should already give you an idea of what your excursion would be and feel like.
So, as early as now, start planning for your adventure to The Great Land! Check out our 2019 expedition list of professionally-guided immersion experiences and expeditions.
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Capt. Andy Schroeder, Co-founder of GMX
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