10 Facts About Polar Bears

Arctic waters and sea ice provide shelter to polar bears, known as Ursus maritimus. Here’s everything you need to know about these extraordinary animals – from their living environments to how quickly they swim!

Their thick layers of fat and fur offer insulation from the cold, while their large paws enable them to walk on ice or paddle across water bodies. Their black skin absorbs heat from the sun’s heat.

1. They’re the largest carnivores on land

Polar bears are among the largest land carnivores on Earth. Adult males can weigh over 800 pounds and reach three meters long, living throughout the Arctic region mostly on sea ice where they hunt seals.

Polar bears are carnivores that consume almost exclusively meat, with seals being their preferred food source; however, when unavailable they’ll also devour whales washed up on shore as well as reindeer, birds and even fish.

Their large paws serve as snowshoes, spreading their weight across thick or thin ice to help them move around more easily. Their pads feature small bumps called papillae that grip onto the surface to stop any slipperiness on thin ice surfaces. Their front paws act like paddles while their rear paws act as rudders when swimming – these bears have even been known to remain submerged for days!

2. They’re the only bears that can outswim seals

Polar bears’ thick layer of fat provides them with buoyancy, while their large forepaws allow them to swim like dog paddles. Polar bears can swim for days at a time to reach new ice floes or hunt seals; in addition, they’re expert travelers!

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus in Latin), live up to their name! Spending much of their lives near sea ice and being classified as marine mammals make this species truly marine in their habitat.

Polar bears cannot rely on land-based sources of food as much, making them primary marine predators. Their sense of smell is incredible – polar bears have the ability to detect seal breathing holes from over one mile away – one reason polar bears are particularly adept at hunting seals.

3. They’re the only bears that can swim for days at a time

Polar bears live and breed on Arctic sea ice, making them excellent swimmers. Their large front paws feature slightly webbed pads to aid their movement through water while simultaneously holding their breath for extended periods.

Researchers tracked 52 female polar bears using GPS collars, and observed that two out of three took “marathon” swims lasting over six hours – likely as a result of melting Arctic sea ice requiring these animals to venture further out into open waters to search for food sources.

Color variations among dogs vary based on factors like sunlight, climate and the accumulation of dirt in their fur.

4. They’re the only bears that can change color in captivity

Polar bears have long been considered iconic symbols of Arctic life. Yet how much do we really understand about them as great white hunters?

Polar bears’ skin is in fact jet black; their fur only appears white due to light reflecting off it. This helps them blend into their surroundings and hunt unsuspecting seals without raising suspicion.

However, even light-reflecting fur may not be as light-emitting as we think it is; scientist Daniel Koon discovered that less than 0.001% of red light and one trillionth of violet light travel down an inch along a polar bear’s fur.

Captive polar bears may take on a greenish hue due to a number of causes, including algae infestation in their enclosure or rough surfaces that rub against them; more often than not however, grass stains or environmental factors cause their color change.

5. They’re the only bears that can see in ultraviolet light

Polar bears have become one of the most beloved Arctic animals, appearing in Coca-Cola commercials and serving as an icon for climate change awareness. Yet there’s much more to these remarkable animals than meets the eye.

Scientists once believed that polar bear hairs acted like fiber optics, funneling UV light directly to their skin in order to warm it. Unfortunately, however, that theory proved wrong.

Instead, each hair is pigment-free and transparent with a hollow core that scatters and refracts sunlight, helping the bears blend in seamlessly with their snowy surroundings. But they still remain warm thanks to insulating layers protected by guard hairs that reflect heat back towards their bodies.

6. They’re the only bears that can smell a seal up to 20 miles away

Polar bears possess an extraordinary sense of smell that allows them to detect seals on the ice up to 20 miles away – even when covered by snow! Their powerful sense also helps them track other polar bears, track other dens underground and find den sites under snow cover.

Polar bears may be capable of strong swimming abilities, but rather than engaging in pursuit of their prey directly they prefer waiting patiently by seal breathing holes on the ice for hours or days before making their move.

Polar bears use socialization unique to them to communicate, including touching noses when they encounter one of their own kind and asking if they want to share the catch they just made. Their large feet act like built-in socks gripping onto ice surfaces to prevent slipping while helping balance on an unstable surface – acting much like built-in socks with bumpy papillae that prevent slipping on slippery ice surface!

7. They’re the only bears that can outswim a seal

Polar bears’ thick fur helps them adapt to Arctic temperatures that often drop well below zero, as well as having up to four and a half inches (11.4 centimeters) of body fat that protects their core temperature from sudden drops in temperature.

Seal hunters rely on these techniques to stay warm while hunting their preferred prey – seals. They often wait patiently by holes in the ice where seals resurface for air, waiting patiently until their target comes into range.

Polar bears can run fast on land, but prefer swimming. Polar bears can cover long distances at 10km per hour (6 mph) using their slightly webbed front paws as paddles and their back legs as rudders to travel long distances at around that speed. Polar bears are adept at navigating choppy waters using these techniques as well. Unfortunately their Arctic habitat is diminishing rapidly due to climate change making them vulnerable species: as more sea ice disappears it becomes harder for polar bears to hunt seals and other Arctic animals for food.

8. They’re the only bears that can outswim a seal

These Arctic predators rely heavily on seal blubber as a primary food source, in order to maintain body heat when hunting on frozen surfaces.

Seal hunters use various tactics to hunt seals, from raiding birth lairs and waiting at breathing holes on sea ice to using scent detection to find prey up to one mile away.

Polar bears have thick coats of insulating fur to keep themselves warm, while their soles feature built-in socks to prevent slipperiness on icy surfaces – an adaptation unique to them.

9. They’re the only bears that can outswim a seal

Polar bears are Arctic predators, primarily targeting ringed seals but sometimes also bearded seals and other pinnipeds. Polar bears hunt on land or by ambushing seals near breathing holes on ice surfaces or raiding birth lairs dug by female seals in snow for giving birth.

These aquatic predators are adept swimmers, capable of traveling great distances using only their front limbs as propulsion. Their thick coat of insulation fat provides buoyancy and allows them to survive the Arctic environment.

Polar bears appear white, but the skin beneath their coats is actually black – helping them absorb heat and blend in better with Arctic snow. But as climate change and melting ice cause them to travel greater distances for food and shelter; consequently they have begun entering campsites or human-inhabited areas in search of sustenance and protection.

10. They’re the only bears that can outswim a seal

Polar bears may have an intimidating reputation, but they’re actually exceptionally graceful swimmers. Polar bears can sustain six mph swimming speeds using their slightly webbed front paws as paddles and hind legs as rudders.

Sea ice provides them with food to survive and is vitally important in their survival. Polar bears are top predators in this environment and depend heavily on it for sustenance.

They can scavenge food when hungry, but seal is their favorite meal. To do so successfully they stalk ringed seals basking on the ice until they raise their heads to make a lunge at them and attack. On average they only succeed in 2 out of every 10 hunts they undertake alone as prey chasers often exhaust too much energy; using their large bumpy paws they also climb ice floes quickly.

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