Animals and Plants in the World Heritage Area

The icebergs in Ilulissat Icefjord create a nutritious environment in the World Heritage Area. This means that there is a rich animal population of fish, birds, and sea mammals.

The Animal Life in the Nutritious Fjord 

Large amounts of plankton, crustaceans, and fish are attracted by the nutritious melt water from the glacier ice in Ilulissat Icefjord. Moreover, the icebergs generate turbulence in the water, which again whirls up more nourishment from deeper layers to the surface.

The Greenland halibut is the dominant species of fish, but cod, capelins, and Greenlandic sharks are also prevalent around the Icefjord. The multitude of fish and crustaceans attract a rich birdlife. In terms of sea mammals, you often see various species of seals as well as whales in the area.

Mammals on Land 

Only a few species of land mammals live near the Icefjord. The reason is among other things that the harsh climate can only sustain a relatively sparse vegetation, and that the land area between the ice cap and the coast is relatively narrow. The Arctic fox is prevalent in the area, while the mountain hare is rarer. Reindeer and musk oxen live in the local area south of the Icefjord. The polar bears rarely visit the area.

Plant Life 

The flora in the World Heritage Area in Ilulissat Icefjord is mid Arctic. The most widespread vegetation is the mountain heath characterized by heather-like stunted bushes like dwarf birch, crowberry, and whortleberry. Moreover, around 160 species of flowering plants and 200 lichen species grow in the area.

The vegetation in the area rarely grows beyond 50 cm in height. In protected valleys with sufficient moisture willow scrub may reach a height of around 1.5 meters. In other places there are large areas of stony and barren ground with little or no vegetation.

Read more about animals and plants near Ilulissat Icefjord on GEUS' website.