For centuries explored as a possible trade route, the Northwest Passage, which is located mostly through the Canadian Archipelago was first navigated by a small expedition led by Norwegian, Roald Amundsen in 1903-1906.
Until 2009, the Arctic pack ice prevented regular commercial shipping during most of the year but the dramatic shrinkage of this pack ice has since made the waterways significantly more navigable.
Contested sovereignty claims over the waters (most recently, by Russia) may complicate future shipping through the region, to say nothing of the drilling rights to its vast untapped oil reserves.
The Canadian government considers the Northwestern Passages as part of Canadian Internal Waters; the United States and various European countries insist that this area constitute an international commercial transit passage.
However, as can be viewed here, large swathes of the eastern end of the Passage are barely 15 meters (49 ft) deep and any disputes over the route’s viability as a Euro-Asian shipping lane may be moot – while leaving the region unmolested for the wonderful white Beluga whales who inhabit this region.
It’s hard to pick favorites, but Beluga whales are definitely among my top 3 favorite animals.
These drone camera scenes were filmed by Arctic Watch photographer Nansen Weber over the course of four weeks around Somerset Island. It features the Beluga congregation of Cunningham Inlet; one of the last Beluga nurseries on Earth, where some two thousand whales congregate annually.