Gros Morne Mountain

Port au Choix

Fogo Island


Cape St. Mary's

100 kilometers

100 miles


Let’s get one thing straight:

I know that caribou do not live in the ocean. I’m a marine biologist. I study ocean animals. I live on an island called Newfoundland in eastern Canada. My research takes place in the North Atlantic Ocean. Of course, there are no caribou in the ocean. But, I can explain why I’m talking about caribou. Here’s what happened. 

I was visiting the Port au Choix lighthouse. As I walked around the lighthouse, I nearly ran into a small herd of caribou. They were grazing on the lighthouse grounds. I geeked out! Caribou are hard to see in the wild. They avoid people. To see so many of them was a big deal. 

There was no way I was going to miss this. I dropped to the ground. I inched forward on my stomach. My heart was racing. I got my camera and took as many photos as I could. Soon the caribou sensed me and moved off. 

Yes, I’m a marine biologist. But on this island, I see animals from the sea, sky, and land. Let me tell you about a few of them. 

The Sea

It’s the sea creatures that I know the best. The North Atlantic is very cold. Its waters can get rough. Yet, many animals call these waters home.

Sea anemones live on the seafloor. These invertebrates have squishy bodies. They glue themselves to rocks to stay in place. Their long tentacles sting and grab passing prey.

The waters around Newfoundland are full of anemones and other life.


Sea Snacks

While the anemones hold fast to rocks, tiny, shimmering fish swim about. They are capelin. They come to the coasts by the millions. Here, they put on a show. Thousands “jump” onto rocky beaches to lay their eggs.

Many species find capelin delicious. Humpback whales are big fans. They travel to Newfoundland in the summer. Food is plentiful here. They eat a lot so they gain and store healthy fat (blubber) during these months.

When the whales come close to the surface, you can see small, hook-like fins on their backs. Or, you might spot a whale’s tail before it dives.

The tail of a humpback whale sticks out above the water’s surface as the whale dives.

Atlantic cod

Atlantic cod eat capelin, too. They have big eyes and a long chin “whisker” called a barbel. The barbel helps these fish sense food in murky waters.