Video: Helping Reindeer Cross a Treacherous Strait

Candice Gaukel Andrews December 24, 2013 34

Every year, reindeer migrate from the Norwegian islands of Arnoya and Kagen to winter pastures in Kautokeino on the mainland. ©SO JORD, flickr

Sometimes, even Santa’s strongest and swiftest assistants need a little help.

Reindeer in the Arctic lead a tough existence, depending on a delicate balance of climate, food supplies and predator/prey relationships to maintain their population numbers. A slight deviation in any of these factors can have dire consequences. And as climate change accelerates, that balance is disappearing.

Field data suggest that the predicted two- to four-degree temperature rise in the coming decades would result in an increase in the level of insect harassment and a corresponding loss of energy reserves in the reindeer. On top of that, some reindeer herds must achieve astounding physical feats that tax those energy reserves even more, such as this population in northern Norway, shown below. Every year, these animals must swim across chilly, just above-freezing Arctic waters. Their goal is to reach the mainland where they can get the lichen they need to make it through the winter.

Watch the video, in which reindeer from the islands Arnoya and Kagen cross a dangerous strait to their winter pastures in Kautokeino. Luckily, Santa’s helpers not only include reindeer, but reindeer herders.

Have happy holidays and a very merry Christmas,



  1. Rusty May 1, 2016 at 8:38 am - Reply

    I am with Claudia. Why do humans need to help at all with natural occurrences like animal migrations. It does appear to be a controlled herd. The gnu and wildabeast dont need help. They are the travelling buffet God intended to feed the many predators above them in the food chain, including humans.

  2. Denise Caiazzo January 23, 2014 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Magnificent! So many videos capture the aggressive, more violent side of nature. Wonderful to see the cooperative effort amongst the herd as well as Elle-Helene’s commitment bringing another triumph for the herd.

  3. Sinnadurai Sripadmanaban January 5, 2014 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Humans may be helping them to get meat,hide,milk etc

  4. Frankie Laney January 5, 2014 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Amazing work done by Elle-Helene. Thanks for sharing this heart warming video.

  5. Pam Glasser Covington January 5, 2014 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    Great video! It’s nice to see humans helping wild animals instead of killing them.

  6. Claudia E. Ramirez January 5, 2014 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    Great video. Are those cowbell like sounds I hear jingling as the reindeer made it to shore? It’s not clear if this is a controlled herd or a wild herd.

  7. K. L. Snyder January 5, 2014 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    Dramatic and beautiful — and better to be a reindeer swimming than a global warming expedition ship stuck in the ice!

  8. Susan Melia January 1, 2014 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful video. Elle-Helene is a wonderful example of our next generation will successfully protect wildlife by blending “modern” and “traditional” lifestyles.

  9. John Bissonette January 1, 2014 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    Very nice. Up to the challenge!

  10. Terry Matthews-Lombardo, CMP January 1, 2014 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    Wow – a great short video to open our eyes to more wonders of the world! Thanks for sharing:-)

  11. Jill Mortimer December 30, 2013 at 8:36 am - Reply

    How wonderful and what fantastic dedication. The world needs more like you.

  12. Alfredo Begazo December 27, 2013 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Nice story and nice end. Nice post Candace.

  13. Anne Taylor December 27, 2013 at 7:26 am - Reply

    Heartwarming to see such dedication. A recent BBC video showed hand-reared bald ibises being led in their migration by a conservator in an ultralight.

  14. Lkhagva December 26, 2013 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    Wonderful and amazing! Thanks Candice for all you wonderful shares!

  15. Laura Dangerfield December 26, 2013 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    That was amazing! Thank you for sharing.

  16. Tristam Sculthorpe December 26, 2013 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Elle-Helene obviously needs to be subject to a sanity-clause!!!

  17. Dhona Lovick December 26, 2013 at 11:48 am - Reply

    thanks for the share Candice, lovely seeing this on Christmas day…

  18. Ma. José Harder Rodríguez December 26, 2013 at 11:47 am - Reply

    thanks for share it!
    Merry christmas for you too!

  19. Sandra Adams December 26, 2013 at 11:44 am - Reply

    Great video, Thanks.

  20. Christina MacLeod December 26, 2013 at 11:43 am - Reply

    Thank you. This footage is amazing!

  21. Bill Harby December 26, 2013 at 11:41 am - Reply

    Thanks, Candice!

  22. Pamela Hawkins December 26, 2013 at 11:41 am - Reply

    Great film! Thanks for sharing.

  23. Lawan Bukar Marguba December 26, 2013 at 11:40 am - Reply

    Reindeer and its management are way out of my league, but I would very much like to read and follow other experts on this. Reindeer and its stories fascinate me all the time.

  24. Bertha Shilunga December 25, 2013 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing. Amazing!

  25. Phil Vincent December 25, 2013 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    Beautiful. Thank you!

  26. Cheryl Devlin December 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    That was beautiful, and informative. We are all familiar with the massive migration of Wildebeasts in Africa, however I think very few people have ever seen or heard of this! Thanks for sharing it! I miss BBC broadcasts since I moved back from Scotland. Some of the best there is!

  27. Linda Plate December 25, 2013 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    It seems that some people are concerned with helping nature and not destroying it. What a lovely girl!

  28. Pat LaStrapes December 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    Awesome video.

  29. PROF. PARTHASARATHI CHATTOPADHYAY December 25, 2013 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    A very nice video showing reindeer are agile swimmers. They cross the frigid sea-lanes effortlessly. I’m inquisitive to know: Whether they fall pray to killer whales or the great white during this migration.
    Both Norwegians & Russians are dexterous reindeer herders.

  30. sinnadurai sripadmanaban December 25, 2013 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    This is safer compared to Gnu crossing rivers in Africa where some get killed by Crocs & Hippos,even by Humans.

  31. George Gekas December 25, 2013 at 8:59 am - Reply

    beautiful relationships

  32. Mauverneen Blevins December 24, 2013 at 9:39 am - Reply

    Wow. Impressive.

  33. Jim Packard December 24, 2013 at 9:38 am - Reply

    WOW. Thanks. It’s a keeper.

  34. John LaPolla December 24, 2013 at 9:38 am - Reply

    It is so good to see humans helping wild life instead of hurting them. Thanks so much to those people for giving a helping hand.

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