Consider current level technology - surveillance satellites, patrol boats, coastal guards, both USA and Russian anti-submarine jet aircraft patrolling skies of Arctic Sea.

I have a big group (~1000) of genetically enhanced people (in my setting they are a vanguard part of interplanetary invasion - in vitro born chimeras with ~99% humans DNA and mind copied from alien), they have much more endurance and strength than average people (they can jog 100+ miles (160km+) per day with 250lbs (113 kg) backpack), they can see in dark clearly, and they have perfect sense of direction, so no GPS or compasses required for them, alongside with night vision goggles and flashlights, but they are still flesh and bone - they can freeze to death (after few hours in cold water), they can starve, orcas and white bears consider them delicious, but, on the same time - raw orcas and white bears meat are considered edible by invaders too.

Also, my invaders don't have any alien tech with them - because aliens do not want humanity to understand interplanetary invasion is happening.

They want to move secretly from Canada to Russia (and back) using skies, kayaks, dog sleds, snowmobiles, rubber boats, etc and other items, vehicles, gadgets they can get from good general stores popular among hikers. Probably the best time for them is during the polar night.

My ideas:

  1. Using passenger jets and other usual means of transport usable by people is not an option, because none of my invaders have government-issued ID (but they have cash and anything they can steal), and all they look quite suspicious - I mean, you'll find there is something not right with this person even if you have no idea who he/she is. Also hijacking passenger planes is not a good idea - there are a lot of USA/Canadian/Russian jet fighters that can take down any plane in a few minutes.

  2. They can mimic native people (Inuit or Chukchi people), but it's quite a big group of invaders, and they don't look like native people.

  3. Big groups of invaders can spread to smaller groups, not a problem.

  4. Unfortunately, building a flying saucer vehicle on the closest scrapyard is not possible - they don't have both nano fabricators and element -1 reserves, they have to use present technologies and resources.

So the question is:

How they can pass through Arctic Sea undetectable by Russia/Canada/USA/Norway and back?

It's OK if the journey took few weeks, but they have to make it undetected.

It's possible they can free ride a cargo ship or hijack a plane but I want them to exactly traverse Arctic Sea by their own, without drawing attention.

It's OK, if the solution sounds a little stupid - like put on white fluffy clothes and move on 4 to mimic white bears - probably, it's good tactics to trick air patrol with thermovisors.

It's OK if the solution is something out of the box, like making underwater habitats pulled by orcas (but, IMHO, it's very unrealistic).

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    $\begingroup$ "They don't look like native people": why not? Seen from an aircraft, a man enveloped in furs looks like a man enveloped in furs. They don't plan to cross the Artic naked, do they? If I were the planner I would have them dress like Eskimos, cross the Bering strait in winter and move overland in small groups of two or three sleds pulled by dogs; and then melt in the taiga. On the Russian side the taiga extends just north of Kamtchatka, so they don't have to cross all that much open land. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Oct 5, 2019 at 11:51
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP, small problem...it's the 21st Century. Seeing someone in the Arctic these days dressed in traditional furs and traveling by dogteam would be as inconspicuous across much of the north, especially in Canada, as someone trying to blend anonymously into the crowds in a modern American city dressed like a Pilgrim. Here, for example, is a group of modern seal hunters: img.src.ca/2015/10/01/635x357/… $\endgroup$ Oct 6, 2019 at 4:16
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    $\begingroup$ Orcas aren't actually that common in the Arctic. $\endgroup$ Oct 6, 2019 at 4:17
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    $\begingroup$ @KeithMorrison: Furs and dogs are formal parameters. I have no idea how the inhabitants of the Arctic actually dress and travel, but I suspect that however they dress is bulky and doesn't show that much skin or hair, and they travel using some sort of snow-adapted vehicles. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Oct 6, 2019 at 4:21
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    $\begingroup$ Why don't they just hijack a cargo ship going their way a few kilometers off the coast and follow the ships route, pretending to be the legal crew, having most of the invaders hiding inside containers in case some other cargo ship spots them? Once they are close to the Russian coast they can use normal scuba gear the rest of the way, considering that they should be able to swim quite fast. Paint some ISIS symbols on the side of the ship once you leave it and no one will look for alien invaders. Much quicker, safer and easier. $\endgroup$
    – user48721
    Oct 8, 2019 at 6:56

6 Answers 6


Consider different parts of the globe, in the real world.

  • Illegal immigrants are trying to walk across quite inhospitable terrain at the US southern border. Some are caught, many get through.
  • Illegal immigrants are trying to cross the Mediterranean on small watercraft. For some, the goal is to be rescued by ships which do not return them to Africa. For others, the goal is to actually get through. Again, some are caught, many get through.
  • In a different vein, drug smugglers are using various routes. In some cases, they hide the contraband in vehicles that are insufficiently searched. In some cases, the goal is to keep their boat, semi-submersible, or aircraft undetected. Again, some are caught, many get through.

These examples suggest to me that detection is not much of an issue if nobody is looking out for it. Drones and recon sats produce lots and lots of data, and only a small part is analyzed with the attention that is given to a North Korean missile site or an Iranian naval base. It would take someone with an initial suspicion to look at satellite imagery or recon drone pictures over time to detect the organized group moving.

So the first question is the physical challenge. People walked across parts of the Antarctic. If your aliens are superhuman as you describe them, they can probably do the Arctic trip.

The problem could be random chance and do-gooders. If a single kayak is spotted near the North Pole, and quick googling shows no known record attempt, someone might send the Coast Guard.

Instead of Canada to Norway, consider Alaska to Russia across the Bering Strait and then through Siberia on foot. The total trip is longer, the over-water part is shorter. And hikers or cars are not terribly unusual on either side.

Again random chance could be a problem. Some friendly hunter comes across a camp of the aliens and wants to chat a bit before he looks for another moose. Some pipeline workers see hikers and shout hello. You could introduce a couple of close calls in your story, but none which causes an alert.

  • $\begingroup$ This might work for a small group, but nothing anywhere near like the ~1000 mentioned by the OP. Any group of people that large would be hard-pressed to make such a journey undetected. $\endgroup$ Oct 7, 2019 at 18:15
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    $\begingroup$ @DarrelHoffman, they don't have to move together. A couple hundred small groups. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Oct 7, 2019 at 18:41
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, I just think even if they broke it down into smaller groups, there's no way that many people are making that long a trip without some of them being spotted at some point. Unless you spread them out over several years maybe. OP is okay with several weeks, but I don't think that's enough time for a group that large. There aren't many people in that part of the world, but it's not completely uninhabited either. (Mind you this is still better than kayaking the Arctic, but I still think the whole idea is a little infeasible.) $\endgroup$ Oct 7, 2019 at 18:49

I am going to claim expertise on this issue for a major reason: I live in the Arctic. I've also participated in search and rescues in the Arctic. The basic answer to this is that small groups of sufficiently-prepared people actively trying to evade detection and if no one is specifically looking for them can do it trivially by any number of means.

It's hard enough to find people close to communities who want to be found.

However, and this is important to note, that if they are seen by anyone, directly or indirectly, they're going to stand out like a sore freaking thumb. Populations up here are small, and people know where other people normally are in a given period of the year. Around my community, for instance, if someone sees tracks in some areas in, say, March, that's going to raise all sorts of red flags because there's no reason for anyone to be in those areas at that time of year, and it will take roughly 90 seconds from the time someone on Facebook mentions it until everyone else in the community knows about the mysterious tracks. Likewise, in most communities in my part of the Canadian Arctic, there's no way to blend in. Everyone pretty much knows everyone else, and someone who showed up in or near town and didn't get off an aircraft (or in summer, a boat) is immediately going to be known about.

There was a case a few years ago where a bunch of Norwegians knew the RCMP and Canada customs wanted to have a chat with some of them regarding their antics in other communities they'd visited, so they stopped outside of town and dropped off the guys in question, planning to pick them up again after the boat docked and the rest of the crew played innocent. It worked for approximately five minutes. We all knew where they were before the boat had managed to get into the bay.

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    $\begingroup$ It must be real hard to organize surprise parties up your way. $\endgroup$
    – smci
    Oct 6, 2019 at 4:10
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    $\begingroup$ Can tracks be plausibly covered in the same way that dragging brush behind you can make forest tracks less obvious? $\endgroup$
    – Muuski
    Oct 7, 2019 at 22:22
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    $\begingroup$ That trick only makes a bigger track, and makes it obvious someone is trying to conceal their tracks. Red flags are now a full-on red fireworks display. $\endgroup$ Oct 8, 2019 at 5:47
  • $\begingroup$ What is a RCMP? $\endgroup$ Oct 8, 2019 at 12:01
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    $\begingroup$ @knallfrosch: Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the “Mounties”). $\endgroup$ Oct 8, 2019 at 12:41

I agree with other answers that going by land through Alaska and Siberia and crossing the Bearing Strait at a relatively narrow point might be much better for your invaders than crossing hundreds or thousand of kilometers or miles of the Arctic Ocean.

Crossing the Arctic Ocean can be quite dangerous.

If they cross in groups using dogsleds they will have to carry food and other provisions for themselves and their dogs. Considering the distances involved, they should have to establish several supply depots and make several expeditions to stock the supply depots before before there are enough supplies accumulated in the depots for the group to be able to cross the entire distance.

As I remember, using pre stocked supply depots was necessary for the expeditions to the North Pole and the South Pole, and those expeditions had far fewer members than the total 1,000 of your invaders if they all go on one trip. And a route from Canada to Russia over the ice might be much longer than a trip to the North Pole and back.

With their greater than human endurance your invaders might not need dogsleds and might be able to carry all needed supplies in their backpacks. But you should calculate how much food they would need during the time necessary to cross the Arctic Ocean and whether they can carry that much weight.

Crossing the Arctic Ocean ice on foot is often very difficult because the ice is very rough in some places and there are open patches of water in other places.

The Arctic ice melts and covers a smaller area in the summer and reforms to cover a larger area in the winter. And with global warming the Arctic ice gets smaller every year. Thus the prospect of sailing cargo ships across the Arctic gets closer every year.

So possibly your invaders could paddle kayaks across open water between the northern shores of North America, Europe, and Asia and the southern edge of the ice sheet. I imagine that there are many icebergs and ice floes floating around in those waters.

And possibly people might get suspicious of many kayaks traveling in unusual directions. It's not like there are actually unknown and undiscovered tribes of Eskimos without Russian, American, Canadian, or Danish contacts and citizenship lurking behind every cape and island in the Arctic. All Eskimo groups are pretty well known and some members of them might have satellite phones capable of reporting strange people in kayaks to the authorities for all that I know.

You might not know any Eskimos personally, or the locations of specific Eskimo communities and hunting grounds, but many outside people who travel in the Arctic will know where Eskimos are usually found and might often have contacts with Eskimos, and might notice strange kayaks making strange voyages.

Or your invaders might want to use larger boats or ships. Possibly they could buy an icebreaker and start a passenger service from Canada or Alaska to Siberia & back. And possibly their voyages could sometimes carry invaders hibernating or something in the cargo hold to be woken and secretly released near the coast of the destination.

Or maybe your invaders might use submarines to travel under the Arctic Ocean, just as drug smugglers have been known to use privately made submarines to carry drugs. An atomic submarine could travel all the way under the Arctic without ever having to come to the surface.

Acquiring or building a conventional diesel electric powered submarine or submarines would be many, many times easier and less conspicuous for your invaders. But submarine batteries can store only a limited amount of electricity and power the sub for a limited distance before they run out of power. Then the sub will have to surface and run the diesel engines using outside air (instead of the limited air on the sub) to recharge the batteries until they are fully charged and the sub can submerge again.

Thus the sub will have to travel mostly though ice free waters, since the only ice covered waters it will be able to travel under will be patches short enough for it to make the trip on one battery charge, or else where they will be certain they can surface and break through the ice, and I don't know if they will be able to predict ice thickness that well.

And if the sub travels under ice free water, it will have to worry about running into the sea floor, or ramming into an island, or hitting a submerged part of an iceberg, or being accidentally run over by a ship, etc., so they will have to navigate carefully.

And the sub will have to scan the surrounding carefully to make certain nobody is around to see before coming up to run the diesel engines and recharge the batteries.

Depending on how many trips your invaders make and how many people make each trip, they might try several different travel methods and different routes to travel between Canada and Russia.


they can starve, orcas and white bears consider them delicious, but, on the same time - raw orcas and white bears meat are considered edible by invaders too.

Polar bears on the hunt will attack humans, but humans are apparently too strange and exotic for most wild orcas to hunt, as the very few recorded possible attacks show:


As for eating orcas and white bears, Arctic orcas and white bears would usually be found only where seals would be found, and hunting seals would be a lot less dangerous for your invaders.

Orcas, like other cetaceans, are extremely intelligent. It is quite possible that the intelligence range of orcas and many other cetaceans overlaps considerably with the intelligence range of humans, and that an objective outside observer might consider orcas and other cetaceans to be intelligent beings and people, or as much so as the observer considers humans to be.

Even though it would not fit the definition of cannibalism exactly, eating human beings should seem almost as disgusting to the invaders as eating members of their own species. And eating orcas should seem almost as disgusting to the invaders as eating humans. If your invaders would kill orcas to eat they are very evil and unscrupulous persons without strong ethical codes.

  • $\begingroup$ Diesel submarines can snorkel; surfacing hasn't been needed since WW II. But considering the Soviets came up with roughly the same plan (except with nuclear missiles instead of invasion forces), don't expect the sub to go unnoticed. $\endgroup$
    – MSalters
    Oct 8, 2019 at 7:44

As the previous answer mention it, it will be easier by Bering Straights.

Map for an "easy" trip

I don't think they can go "undetected" but group from 4 to 5 may go unnoticed (they will be seen, but it will not be seen as a unsual thing). Here you can go by remote terrestrial areas where it may be easier to hide in case of a recon flight, than on the ice sheep. But if there are not researched, the only problematic part may be the border and landing in Russia.

This is mostly unpopulated area, so they will be not much questions asked.

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    $\begingroup$ You've got it backwards; it's mostly unpopulated so there will be a lot of questions asked, such as "Who are these people? No one should be traveling out that way." $\endgroup$ Oct 6, 2019 at 4:19
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe I've a wrong perception of Alaska, but for me it is a region that still be in some kind of "Gold Rush" mindset, with pionneers and prospectors going back and forth. To me, no one care much about foreigners that may pass, buying some foods to get back in the wild, as pionneers or prospector may do $\endgroup$
    – Cailloumax
    Oct 11, 2019 at 11:39
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    $\begingroup$ Don't allow TV shows to give you an impression of what people anywhere are actually like. There's been a lot of criticism that all the shows based in Alaska give you a completely wrong impression of what life is actually like there. It's one of the reasons Ice Road Truckers was moved out of Canada: people using the ice roads and authorities were fed up that the series made it look like a bunch of lunatics were having constant brushes with death and finally laid down the law that they show the reality, but the reality is boring and makes boring TV. $\endgroup$ Oct 11, 2019 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ You're sadly right! And my European culture don't help to understand this place without actually seeing it. But about my point on "not much question ask", not much question will be ask by the local, since there is not much local, that's what I imply $\endgroup$
    – Cailloumax
    Oct 11, 2019 at 15:08

@M_A_Golding notes:

An objective outside observer might consider orcas and other cetaceans to be intelligent beings

This suggests another possibility. If you can engineer "humans" with alien minds, why not whales? Then your near-humans could collaborate with these near-whales to cross oceans somewhere warmer (or not, if they have sufficient protective gear, but this is probably difficult).

(Framing challenge? Why Canada and Russia? If your ultimate goal is just having them cross between the east and west hemispheres, and you picked those because it seemed like the easiest crossing, well... read on, and consider say Mexico and China instead.)

Let's look at the individual issues you have:

Can they get in and out of the country undetected?

A handful of near-humans go to a crowded beach and swim out a ways. Nothing suspicious here; everyone is doing it. If there are enough people around, it's unlikely the muggles will notice if a few invaders swim out and never come back. Or, if they do it on a secluded beach, they probably won't be noticed at all. Same thing at the other end; a group that goes out swimming and comes back with more people probably won't be noticed, as long as you're avoiding e.g. known drug smuggling routes that are on alert for that sort of thing.

The one caveat is that you'll need to leave someone behind, and have someone placed in advance, or else be very careful that they take public transportation to and from the beaches and don't leave vehicles or other unattended possessions lying around.

Can they cross the ocean at all?

You indicated that "they can freeze to death (after a few hours in cold water)" (emphasis added). Since normal humans can freeze in minutes, or even seconds, this implies they have super-human resistance to cold water. If you can combine this with not swimming in freezing waters in the first place and proper use of equipment (and having engineered your near-humans with this method in mind), it doesn't seem implausible that your near-humans can make an oceanic crossing with their near-whale buddies. Especially since the near-whales can share food with their passengers (you mentioned they like raw orca, so it seems likely they can eat whatever their near-whale companions are eating). Plus, the near-whales can help with ferrying other supplies.

Can they cross the ocean undetected?

Almost certainly... because they don't need to evade detection, as such. Migrating whales aren't interesting. You just need to hide that there are near-humans with the near-whales, and unless someone gets a good, up close look, this shouldn't be hard. I can think of plenty of ways, especially with some bio-engineering hand-waving, that your near-humans can stay underwater for 10+ minutes, which is going to tend to put them safely in the realm of "couldn't possibly be smugglers". Remember, even if you don't use some sort of harness, the near-human just has to hang on. Or you could use some sort of air-tight pouch...

As long as you avoid any metal (which is going to raise all sorts of suspicions, if noticed, and can be detected various ways), your near-human, near-whale pair is going to be far outside the parameters of what coast guards and whatnot consider a possible threat.

For added bonus points, you can write a scene where they are "detected", and the humans decide there is nothing suspicious or concerning. The best place to hide, after all, is often in plain sight. As David Weber wrote, "surprise is usually what happens when someone misinterprets something he's seen all along". (Pretty sure this isn't the first use, but this was the instance that Google found.)

Can they hang around on land without being detected?

This is where your real problem is going to bem if your near-humans are "inherently shifty-seeming". But this wasn't the question...

  • Quora. How many people can a cruise ship take? The currently largest passenger ship in the world... can carry over 6600 passengers (all berths filled) plus about 2200 crew. So almost 9000 people in all.

1- Start a cruise line. Hire humans to get permits on both sides. Run back and forth while never taking any actual humans. If the population centers on each side make it hard to hide, launch and retrieve lifeboats at safe distances on each side.

2- Take actual humans on your cruises and kidnap/ransom/kill the richest of them, then max out all their credit cards to fund your war with local materials. (Even a war against aliens among us, will run on materials/supplies.) A front "outfitting company" for Alaska tours could hire humans to do the buying and supplying at drops throughout Alaska and the humans could never actually meet their bosses.

3- "If Texas is tired of being the second largest state, you can divide Alaska in half and they can be third." Meaning there is a lot of open space up there. Snow and ocean colored camo may reduce the risk of discovery significantly. No need to be near anyone, ever.

4- Make a boat that looks like a small iceberg. Any close observance will show it moving against the currents but it will pass by most people who tend to not be very aware of their environment (tourists). It can just drift if someone gets within 10 miles of it. Then resume when it is safe.


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