Polar bears, the great white kings of the North, live in the colder regions of the Arctic and subarctic tundra, and they can be seen firsthand in places like Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Every fall, the world’s greatest concentration of polar bears convene at the edge of Hudson Bay near Churchill, where they wait for the sea ice to form and their seal hunting season to begin.
On Land or by Sea?
The polar bear, or Ursus maritimus (“sea bear”), is the only bear classified as a marine mammal by most countries within its range (the U.S., Norway, Greenland and Russia). Canada, however, currently classifies the polar bear as a terrestrial mammal. Polar bears feed primarily on seals, which they reach from a platform of sea ice. Seal blubber is especially important for polar bears because of its high fat content. Currently thinning sea ice due to climate change is forcing polar bears to swim further and make this seal hunting much more challenging process.
Now That’s Big!
Polar bears are massive! In fact, the largest polar bear ever recorded was a male weighing 2,209 pounds.
Now That’s Small!
But the massive adult polar bears weren’t always that way. Polar bear mothers usually give birth to twins, each of which weighs just more than one pound at birth and are only about 12 inches long.
Baby polar bears are born in the safe shelter of their mother’s den, where they spend the majority of their early childhood days to stay warm and to bond with their mother. Cubs will nurse off of their mother’s milk for three to four months.
When the cubs are big enough, the family leaves the den so the mother can return to the sea ice to hunt seals. She is very hungry by that point, having gone for months without food.
A Bright Future?
The future may actually be too bright, as polar bears are at risk in a warming world. They need sea ice to hunt seals, and the sea ice is melting rapidly due to climate change from greenhouse gases (GHG). In fact, scientists predict that we could lose two-thirds of the world’s polar bears by 2050, and we could lose all of them by the end of the century unless we unless we dramatically reduce GHG emissions worldwide. This is mission critical for polar bear survival, to the point where polar bears are listed as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Natural Habitat Adventures provides the rare opportunity to see the King of the Arctic in its wild home on its world-class Classic Polar Bear Adventure! Nat Hab also partners exclusively with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to support polar bear conservation efforts in order to ensure that our children have the same opportunity to learn and experience this amazing creature in the wild.
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