The Arctic covers eight countries, including the United States. Diverse landscapes – from the sea ice to coastal wetlands, upland tundra, mountains, wide rivers and the sea itself – support abundant wildlife and many cultures. Of all of the wildlife in the Arctic, the polar bear is the most fitting icon for this region. Its amazing adaptation to life in the harsh Arctic environment makes it an impressive species.
Within the Arctic region of the United States, the remarkable waters of the Bering Sea attract marine mammals, such as gray whales, which travel great distances to forage and raise their young. Almost half of the fish caught in the United States comes from this sea. Its fisheries are vital to local communities whose livelihoods depend on fishing and millions of people worldwide. Across the Bering Sea in Russia, the Kamchatka Peninsula’s river systems produce up to one-quarter of all wild Pacific salmon. The salmon provide nourishment to other wildlife, including the Kamchatka brown bear. The Arctic, including the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, now faces an uncertain future due to climate change, mining, shipping, oil and gas development and overfishing in key areas.