07/02/2019 12:50 EDT

Arctic Fox Stuns Scientists With Record-Setting Trek From Norway To Canada

A researcher says her team couldn't believe the distance travelled.

A young Arctic fox has impressed researchers with the fastest journey ever witnessed from the species. 

“Scientists are speechless,” Greenland’s Sermitsiaq newspaper reported last Thursday.

Researchers have been watching the animal’s journey across the Arctic to Canada’s North since it was released into the wild with a GPS tracking device March of last year, the newspaper said.

The scientists determined the fox, which was under a year old, travelled 1,512 kilometres in 21 days, an average of 72 kilometres per day. She eventually travelled 3,506 kilometres in 76 days, from from the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen to Canada’s Ellesmere Island.

“At first we didn’t believe what we saw,” Norwegian Polar Institute researcher Eva Fuglei told Norway’s state-owned broadcaster NRK in a June 25 article. “We might have thought that the fox was dead and that someone had taken it in their boat. But there are no boats in that area.”

The researchers documented their findings in a study published on June 24 in the Norwegian Polar Institute’s journal Polar Research.

Fuglei noted it was the sheer distance travelled by the fox that was so impressive, reaching as high as 155 kilometres a day. 

“This is the fastest movement rate recorded for this species,” the study said.

Scientists at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research released maps detailing the fox’s journey.

In total, the animal is believed to have travelled 4,415 kilometres over a four-month period.

Fuglei told NRK finding food during the winter months “becomes difficult” for these animals. They take advantage of sea ice to cross continents in search of nourishment. The crafty creatures find new food sources as they travel vast distances.

“This is when the arctic fox often draws on other geographical areas to find enough food to survive,” Fuglei explained. “But this fox went much longer than most we have seen before.”

Universal Images Group via Getty Images
This photo shows an Arctic fox in Greenland, which is not the one that was tracked by scientists in Norway.