In addition to whales, there are many Arctic animals, including polar bears, caribou, arctic fox, walrus, seals, reindeer and lots of different birds. Some live thre all year while others visit only in the warmer months, like the bowhead who migrate into the Arctic Ocean as the seas ice breaks up each summer.
With the air temperate and the skies light, gathering fresh food was feasible. Scurvy was common amongst whalers and caribou meat was said to have kept the disease at bay. Some whalers established trade with the natives, which helped keep their crews fed.
However, there were bigger forces that whalers had to contend with: the unpredictable and often fierce Arctic weather.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service