So you think your New Year’s resolution to exercise more is proving gruelling?
Spare a thought for one Arctic fox, which travelled from Norway’s Svalbard islands to northern Canada in a remarkable journey that left scientists “thunderstruck”.
According to researchers at Norway’s Polar Institute, the juvenile fox — which was fitted with a GPS tracking device — covered more than 3500 kilometres in just 76 days, averaging 46 kilometres a day.
“We couldn’t believe our eyes at first,” Eva Fuglei of the Polar Institute told Norway’s NRK public broadcaster, according to the BBC.
“We thought perhaps it was dead, or had been carried there on a boat, but there were no boats in the area. We were quite thunderstruck.”
The young female was released into the wild on the east coast of Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago, which separates mainland Norway and the North Pole, in March last year.
About three weeks later, researchers tracked the fox to Greenland — 1512 kilometres away.
It then travelled another 2000 kilometres to Canada’s Ellesmere Island, totalling more than 3500 kilometres in under three months.
According to the research findings, published in the Polar Research journal, the fox reached distances of 155 kilometres a day while traversing ice sheets in northern Greenland.
That is the “fastest movement rate ever recorded for this species”, the report concluded, and was found to be 1.4 times faster than the previous record set by an adult male Arctic fox tracked in Alaska.
“[Winter] is when the Arctic fox often migrates to other geographical areas to find food to survive,” Ms Fuglei told NRK.
“But this fox went much further than most others we’ve tracked before – it just shows the exceptional capacity of this little creature.”
Despite its speed, the fox made two breaks in its journey across northern Greenland, according to a graph produced by the Polar Institute.
At one point, its movement rate dropped below 10 kilometres a day for 48 hours.
Scientists believe the juvenile, thought to be under a year old when it embarked on its journey, may have encountered bad weather or stopped to “snap up crustaceans from the open water”.
The second leg of the animal’s journey into Canada remains more of a mystery, however.
Its transmitter stopped working in February, and its fate remains unknown.