Iceland’s one native land mammal is the Arctic fox. The first Arctic fox came to Iceland at the end of the last ice age when land bridges connected Iceland with other arctic habitats. Fossil remains suggest that the fox population was more diverse, but today only the fuliginosus subspecies are native to Iceland. Tens of thousands of years of evolution have resulted in adaptations that make the Icelandic Arctic fox suited for the harsh subarctic climate. Averaging 18 to 27 inches long and weighing less than 10 pounds, the Arctic fox is about the size of a house cat. Its fur is considered the warmest pelt of any Arctic animal, allowing the fox to survive in temperatures as low as minus 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
As seen in Alex’s photo, Arctic foxes have two distinct coat colors: blue and white. Ninety-nine percent of the Arctic fox population is white—technically, white in winter, and grey/brown in summer. The much rarer blue morph (as seen in the photo) remains blue year-round.
Alex was hiking in Thórsmörk, a popular hiking area in the middle of the highlands. Named for the Norse god Thor, Thórsmörk is also a great place for wildlife photography.
“I shot this with 70mm zoom,” recalls Alex. “The fox was very close. I wasn’t expecting it to get this close. It was so magical. I don’t shoot much wildlife, but I enjoy it, and want to shoot more.”