Greenland Nature Trivia
Can you name the smallest seal in Greenland? Any idea of the foraging habits of an Arctic fox? Take our Greenland nature quiz below to put your knowledge to the test, then share it with your family and friends to see who knows the most about the remote Arctic! When you're finished, scroll down to reveal the correct answers and explanations.
The Greenland ice sheet is the largest body of ice on the planet.
Correct Answer: False
Explanation: The Antarctic ice sheet is the largest body of ice in the world, followed by the Greenland ice sheet.
Header Credit: Eric Rock, Quiz Header Credit: Ralph Hopkins, Photo Credit: Candice Gaukel Andrews
This whale found in Greenlandic waters is the second-largest mammal in the world.
Correct Answer: Fin whale
Explanation: After the blue whale, the fin whale is the second-largest mammal on earth. The sperm whale is the largest of the toothed whales, while the minke whale is the smallest baleen whale. Up to 15 species of whales roam Greenlandic waters.
Fun Fact: Toothed whales have teeth, one blowhole, and are typically smaller than baleen whales. Baleen whales have two blowholes and use a filter feeding system, using the bristly plates made of keratin in their mouth. At almost 10 feet long, the bowhead whale has the longest baleen of any whale.
Photo Credit: Sara Higgins
Kulusuk is an Inuit settlement in Greenland where traditional ways of life are still practiced today. In the native language Kalaallisut, the word kulusuk means:
Correct Answer: Chest of a black guillemot
Explanation: Black guillemots are waterbirds that nest on rocky cliffs overlooking the sea. Both guillemots and seals have traditionally been hunted for food in the Greenlandic village of Kulusuk. The white-tailed eagle is Greenland’s largest breeding bird. Most of its diet is comprised of fish including Arctic char and cod. The gyrfalcon is the largest falcon species and has white plumage flecked with gray. This bird of prey hunts ptarmigan and waterfowl.
Photo Credit: Candice Gaukel Andrews
During the summer in inland Greenland, an arctic fox’s diet consists mostly of:
Correct Answer: Lemmings
Explanation: In the summer, the lemming is the central component of an inland Arctic fox’s diet. The Arctic fox uses its keen hearing and a profound sense of smell to detect lemmings scurrying under the snow’s surface. The number of kits born to a fox’s litter in spring and early summer depends upon the abundance of food. Consequently, the population of Arctic foxes rises and falls every three to five years in a cycle dependent on the number of lemmings. Arctic foxes are opportunistic hunters, eating small mammals and carrion in addition to eggs, insects and berries. Foxes make caches of food to keep for the long winter ahead. Danish naturalist Alwin Pedersen found one cache that contained four snow buntings, two murres, and 36 dovekies, along with a pile of dovekie eggs. Fulmars are a common seabird in Greenland. Fulmars are tubenoses, so called due to the tubular nasal passages perched above their beaks. Though they appear similar to gulls, they are actually a part of the petrel family.
Fun Fact: There are two colors of Arctic fox in Greenland, white and blue. The white Arctic fox's coat becomes mottled grey in the summer, and the blue Arctic fox has a blue-tinged dark gray coloration that becomes browner in the summer.
Photo Credit: Tony Joyce
The Greenland ice sheet covers what percentage of the island?
Correct Answer: 80%
Explanation: The Greenland ice sheet stretches 1,500 miles and has remained frozen for more than 3 million years.
Photo Credit: Ralph Lee Hopkins
Which of the following is a pinniped?
Correct Answer: Harp seal
Explanation: Pinnipeds are carnivorous aquatic mammals in the order Pinnipedia, compromised of seals, walruses and sea lions. In Latin, Pinnipedia translates to “fin foot,” referring to the animals’ flippers. Dolphins, porpoises and whales are marine mammals that belong to the order Cetacea. Dolphins and porpoises are very closely related and are both classified as toothed whales.
Beluga Whale: Alex de Vries, Harp Seal: Melissa Scott
One of the ways you can get to the tiny village of Tinit is by:
Correct Answer: Dogsled
Explanation: This remote village faces the Sermilik Fjord. Colorful houses deck the rocky landscape, and enormous icebergs can be seen floating at sea. No roads lead in or out of Tinit, and there are no cars. Boats and helicopters can be taken to Tinit, and snowmobiles and dogsleds are used during winter.
Sleddogs: Candice Gaukel Andrews
Do polar bears live in Greenland?
Correct Answer: Yes
Explanation: The polar bear’s scientific name, Ursus maritimus, means “sea bear.” These massive mammals are found where the ice meets the sea, hunting for their favorite prey—ringed seals. During the summer thaw, they are driven from the sea ice and roam the coast for reindeer, eggs, berries, kelp, seabirds, beached whales and Arctic hare. In the summer, polar bears lose weight and subsist on their stores of fat until the winter seal hunt begins again.
Photo Credit: Linda Mechler
What is the only species of deer in Greenland?
Correct Answer: Reindeer
Explanation: Reindeer have lived in the Arctic for thousands of years, and the Kalaallit (Greenland Inuit) have relied on them as an essential source of food, clothing, tools and shelter. Wild reindeer are shy and flighty, though they find security in large herds. They are one of the most widespread mammals along the west coast of Greenland.
Reindeer: Alexandre Buisse (Nattfodd) [ CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
What is the name for large slabs of ice that have broken off from the ice shelf and drift
in the water? (Hint: Also called an “ice island,” it has steep sides and a flat top):
Correct Answer: Tabular iceberg
Explanation: Tabular icebergs are shaped much like a table top, while non-tabular icebergs have many different formations, such as dome, pinnacle, wedge, dry-dock and blocky.
Photo Credit: Candice Gaukel Andrews
In terms of area, Greenland is the world’s largest island.
Correct Answer: True
Explanation: Greenland is 840,004 square miles, making it the largest island. It is a little more than three times the size of Texas. Greenland is followed in size by New Guinea, Borneo and Madagascar. Australia is considered a continental landmass, at more than 2.9 million square miles!
Photo Credit: Rick Guthke
At its thickest point, how deep is the Greenland ice sheet?
Correct Answer: 2 miles
Explanation: This gigantic ice cap leaves visitors in awe, but being located in the Arctic, it is especially vulnerable to climate change. If the entire Greenland ice sheet were to melt, it would raise sea levels by approximately 20 feet.
Photo Credit: Candice Gaukel Andrews
What is the smallest seal in Greenland?
Correct Answer: Ringed Seal
Explanation: Ringed seals are the smallest seal in Greenland and are the favored prey of polar bears. Ringed and harp seals are the most abundant seals in the Arctic. Also known as ice seals, hooded, harp, bearded and ringed seals all depend on the sea ice for reproduction and raising pups. Harbor seals pups are born on shore and spend a large portion of their day basking on land.
Harp Seal: Mario Alemagno, Harbor Seal: Niki Gialis
Of the following whales found in Greenlandic waters, World Wildlife Fund is
studying this “unicorn of the sea” by tracking the animal with satellite tags:
Correct Answer: Narwhal
Explanation: In the Middle Ages, narwhal tusks were sold as unicorn horns and were a highly prized trade item between Inuit hunters and Norse settlers. Scientists believe that narwhals use their spiraling tusks, which can reach up to 10 feet in length, in mating rituals. With up to 10 million nerve endings inside, these piercing protrusions have incredible sensory capability. Using satellite tracking, World Wildlife Fund is tracing the paths narwhals take to their feeding and breeding grounds to help conserve this little-understood species. Narwhals, belugas, orcas and blue whales (the largest mammal on earth) are all found in Greenlandic waters. As the amount of shipping vessels increases due to development, underwater noise increasingly interferes with communication among whales. These disturbances affect the whales’ ability to navigate and find mates. WWF is working to help raise awareness and reduce noise pollution for these sensitive creatures.
Fun Fact: While narwhals have tusks, a few females also have them, though they are much less prominent. Very rarely, narwhals are born with two tusks. all male
Photo Credit: Paul Nicklen
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