20th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Natural World
Musk Oxen Family in the Alaska Tundra

My first trip to Alaska was a road trip on the Dalton Highway in the fall of 2022. I travelled on a mostly dirt road all the way from Fairbanks, through the Brooks Range, inside the Arctic Circle. As I continued north towards the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay by the Arctic Circle, the mountains gave way to a tundra-covered area, called the North Slope, underlain by permafrost (permanently frozen sediment and rock); only a shallow surface zone thaws during the short summer, producing a vast number of small ephemeral lakes and ponds. It is in this tundra, that I encountered a herd of musk oxen. Musk oxen are grazing animals, more closely related to sheep and goats than to oxen, their Latin name Ovibos means "sheep-ox".

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 09.2022
Date Uploaded: 11.2022
Photo Location: Alaska, United States of America
Camera: Canon EOS R5
Copyright: © Rajiv Bhambri