David Gray

 

David Gray

Arctic Biologist and Research Associate, Canadian Museum of Nature

Exploring and studying the ecology and behaviour of Arctic birds and mammals has always fascinated me.

 
 
 

Meet the expert

 

An Arctic biologist, Dr. David Gray has studied mammals and birds in Canada’s Arctic since 1968. Currently a Research Associate with the Canadian Museum of Nature, he has made over 30 research trips to the Arctic islands, studying the behaviour of several of the region’s birds and mammals. David has also written two books about the Arctic and has worked on a number of Arctic films and museum exhibits.

What is an Arctic biologist? A biologist studies the life of plants and animals and how they relate to their environment. Studying the behaviour of Arctic birds and mammals reveals the details of how certain species survive in the harsh environment, and how changes in their behaviour may be related to changes in the Arctic environment.

For Expedition Arctic, David set off on a mission to study and explore the Arctic’s exciting and awe-inspiring wildlife. As the Arctic climate changes, David is interested in how changes in a species’ behaviour may be related to changes to its habitat.

 
 

My mission

My mission was to find Arctic mammal species and document their behavior. See how I did this.

 
The complete skull of an Arctic hare.

Arctic hare

The Arctic is home to many different animals.  The Arctic hare is one of the largest members of the family of mammals called Leporidae, which consists of hares and rabbits. The scientific name, Lepus arcticus, simply means “hare of the Arctic". Image: The skull of an Arctic hare.

View Arctic hare

 

Polar bear

The polar bear (its scientific name being Ursus maritimus) is the world's largest land carnivore, or meat-eater.  It is the biggest member of the bear family, known by the scientific name, Ursidae. Image: A polar bear.

View Polar bear

A taxidermied polar bear mount.
 

My trip

I explored many new areas that I have never been to before. In this video, see what I saw and find out what I learned.

 
the upper portion of a bowhead whale's skull.

Bowhead whale

The Bowhead whale (its scientific name being Balaena mysticetus) is a large marine mammal that has adapted to living in and around Arctic sea ice. Scientists believe that bowhead whales are among the longest living mammals on the planet. After 50 years of age, bowhead whales continue to grow in size while their life-span is believed to be over 100 years old. Image: A portion of a bowhead whale's skull.

View Bowhead whale

 

Red-throated Loon

The Red-throated Loon (scientifically named Gavia stellata) is the smallest of the three species of loons that breed in the Canadian Arctic. Like all other loons, they have difficulty walking on land as their legs are located far back on their body. The placement of the legs allows for excellent propulsion while diving and swimming underwater or paddling on the surface. The Red-throated Loon is the only loon that can take off from land. All other loon species require a running-on-water take off. Image: A Red-throated Loon.

View Red-throated Loon

A taxidermied Red-throated Loon mount.
 

My methods

Learn about the methods I use as a biologist. These skills and techniques have let me travel the world to follow my passions for exploration, science, and the quest for new knowledge.

 

Interested in a career in Biology? Watch this video.

 

David Gray’s blog posts

 

Lady Franklin Island – Sunday, August 5

In the news, we have been hearing a lot about the impact of climate change and global warming on the polar bear. Some articles have mentioned bears found swimming far out at sea and the increasing incidents of bears found drowned. So it was particularly suitable that our first sighting of polar bears on this [...]

Baffin Island – Wednesday, August 8

Today we arrived at Kivitoo, an abandoned village north of Qikiqtarjuaq, early in the morning and many students were out on deck hoping for a sighting of a bowhead whale. On the shore we could see the site of the former Inuit village, the old whaling station, and the whaler’s graveyard. The last time we [...]

 

Itilleq Fjord, Greenland – Saturday, August 11

In the far North, where I have done most of my research, Arctic hares retain their white coat in summer. One of my objectives for this trip was to see and document the grey summer coat of the more southern hares. Though we did see one young Arctic hare in Iqaluit, cruising through town and [...]

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland – Sunday, August 12

Today I was on deck early to scan the shores of Kangerlussuaq Fjord for muskoxen. This, our last day in Greenland before flying home, was also our best, and last, opportunity to see muskoxen. As usual, there were many objects on the hills that could have been muskoxen, but were only rocks. If you want [...]