Wildlife photographer Florian Schulz set out to dispel the notion that the Arctic is barren of biodiversity. In his latest project, Visions of the Arctic, Schulz depicts land and sea teeming with wildlife. The effort is a collaboration with outdoor clothing manufactuer Patagonia and non-profit law firm Earthjustice that aims to draw attention to the beauty of the region and the threats it faces from industrialization—namely oil and natural gas development—and climate change. Below are a few of Schulz’s images, which are on exhibit at the G2 Gallery in Venice, California, through June 20, 2010.
For more on how the melting permafrost in the Arctic is already changing the region—and could potentially unleash unprecedented amounts of carbon into the atmosphere—read “Smoke Signals” from the May-June 2010 issue.
Caribou form large herds on the coastal plains north of the Brooks Range. Vegetation and free-flowing rivers crisscross the plains during the summer months in this, one of the most splendid stretches of wilderness left in America. Arctic Refuge, Alaska. ©Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com
Sandpipers in Prince William Sound grow restless as they prepare to migrate north to their breeding grounds in the Arctic. Millions of migratory birds depend on the region for their survival. Prince William Sound, Alaska. ©Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com
Few people expect to see so many wetlands and lakes dotting the Arctic landscape, yet the region is home to countless lakes and some of the most productive wetland systems in the world. These wetlands are near Teshekpuk Lake, a critical area for migrating bird species. Teshekpuk Lake area, Alaska. ©Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com
Not surprisingly, pipelines, roads, and processing facilities are springing up in areas that are important to wildlife. This pipeline, for example, crisscrosses a caribou migration route east of Prudhoe Bay. Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. ©Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com
As oil development expands farther into wildlife habitat, human-wildlife interactions can take a tragic turn. This grizzly bear became conditioned to garbage waste and was later killed. Deadhorse, Alaska. ©Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com
Musk oxen gather at the edge of the oil town of Deadhorse, Alaska. Development in the Arctic can displace native species while attracting predators like foxes that prey on local bird populations. Deadhorse, Alaska. ©Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com
One of the most recognizable faces of climate change, polar bears must swim longer distances to reach solid sea ice as warmer temperatures create larger stretches of open water. If current warming trends continue, scientists estimate that polar bears may become extinct from most of their range in less than100 years. Beaufort Sea, Alaska. ©Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com
Earthjustice and other conservation groups have been working to protect the Arctic by curbing oil and gas development in sensitive regions. These snowy owls will feed their chicks as much as possible during the short summer months before winter sets in Barrow area, Alaska. ©Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com
Preserving Arctic lands will also help the survival of species that are endangered in the lower 48 states but enjoy healthy populations in the Arctic, such as this majestic gray wolf photographed in Denali National Park south of the Arctic among the fall colors of the tundra. Denali National Park, Alaska. ©Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com