Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are within the information on a regular basis because the “poster animal” of local weather change, however exterior of the truth that they’re massive, look white (sure, that “look” half is essential!), the bulk hand around in Churchill, Canada, and their habitat is in extreme hazard, what else do most individuals actually find out about them?
Listed here are eight information about polar bears that can depart you much more enamored with these beastly beauties. There’s undoubtedly much more to those Arctic-dwelling bears than what most wildlife lovers know.
1. They really share meals fairly properly with Arctic foxes
You would possibly assume an enormous, gnarly, hungry polar bear would gobble up any animal that got here shut. However nope—environment friendly polar bears in regular situations are likely to solely eat animals with a lot of high-calorie fatty blubber (is sensible why they’ve a choice for marine animals). When meals is considerable, they gained’t contact Arctic foxes and infrequently even share meals with them. The polar bear has what’s referred to as a mutualistic symbiotic relationship with Arctic foxes. The polar bear, after gnawing on the blubber of a marine animal, will often depart the meaty a part of the carcass behind. Arctic foxes comply with polar bears and scavenge on these stays.
They’re additionally well mannered sharers amongst themselves. Once they have entry to bigger marine mammals equivalent to beluga whales, there may be over 3,000 kilos of meals to share amongst a gaggle of polar bears. When one polar bear desires to share one other bear’s meals, they’ll slowly circle their means in the direction of them and gently contact noses to ask if they will share.
2. They’re the one carnivorous bear
Though most bears are omnivores, which means that they reside off a weight loss program of each animals and vegetation, there isn’t precisely an abundance of plants within the arctic tundra. Polar bears are carnivorous, and their major weight loss program is ringed and bearded seals. That being stated, polar bears are opportunistic hunters and in the summertime, after they can’t hunt seals, will at instances flip to many different meals sources to outlive. This may embrace birds, terrestrial mammals and even vegetation equivalent to algae and berries. Because of this, some scientists desire to categorise them as hypercarnivores—animals whose diets are composed of greater than 70% meat. However in excellent polar bear situations, they’d fortunately munch on solely seals and that will be that. A polar bear can burn by way of 12,325 energy per day; that equates to a feminine having to eat both one giant grownup seal, three small grownup seals or nineteen new child seal pups each week and a half simply to keep up her physique mass. I can’t even think about what number of vegetation they must eat to cowl their caloric wants!
3. If you happen to occur to be a misplaced arctic explorer and are ravenous, assume twice about consuming polar bear meat
Though it’s unlawful for most individuals to hunt polar bears, there are often some exceptions for Indigenous populations who’ve relied on them as a supply of meals for a lot of tons of of years. However, they undoubtedly know what they’re doing. Polar bear meat have to be very properly cooked, because it typically is crammed with Trichinella spiralis parasites. These trigger trichinosis, which in extreme instances could cause loss of life. Consuming polar bear liver can also be extremely harmful, as a result of it’s so excessive in vitamin A that it may trigger Hypervitaminosis A in people—a freaky, lethal illness that may trigger your hair to fall out and your pores and skin to peel. Prior to now, many hungry explorers who in all probability celebrated earlier than they feasted have sadly died from consuming uncooked polar bear meat.
4. They distances they will swim are nearly unbelievable
As a result of they prey on seals and whales, it shouldn’t come as any large shock that polar bears are first rate swimmers. However between their massive, barely webbed paws and a hole outer layer of fur that offers them added buoyancy, they’re really wonderful swimmers. They must be, as they migrate lengthy distances by water when shifting from the melting sea ice to islands or the mainland. Every migration is over 100 miles on common, however there are polar bears on report for having traveled greater than 425 miles in a single swim. That’s greater than 9 days straight by way of—3 times the longest distance ever swam without delay by a human!
5. Polar bears aren’t really white
Wait, what? Yup, it’s true. Polar bears have two layers of fur. One is a brief undercoat and one is made up of longer “guard hairs.” Whereas it might sound by taking a look at a polar bear that these hairs are be white, they’re really translucent. They solely look white as a result of they mirror the daylight.
Generally on our Churchill Traditional Polar Bear Journey, we see polar bears underneath a grey sky and so they seem grey. At sundown, they will have a tinge of crimson to them. They’ll additionally even seem inexperienced in captivity: Tough concrete pens could cause tiny holes to kind within the guard hairs, letting algae in to develop, particularly when they’re stored in hotter climates. One other enjoyable reality is that whereas all different bears have pink pores and skin beneath their fur, polar bears even have black pores and skin.
6. They’ve probably the most delicate nostril of any land mammal
Polar bears can hear a barely wider vary of frequencies than people (as much as 25 kHz), and their eyesight can also be just like that of people (though they do have a protecting membrane over their eyes that helps defend them from ultraviolet mild). However polar bears’ sense of odor is an entire different matter. In line with the oldsters at Guinness World Data, polar bears have probably the most delicate nostril of any mammal that lives on land. They’ll odor prey as much as 20 miles away! Even when an animal is hiding underneath three toes of dense snow, they will’t cover from a polar bear. The bear will odor them with zero drawback.
7. Females polar bears may give delivery to cubs from totally different fathers on the similar time
Polar bears are polygynous and can infrequently mate with the identical bear in several years. Male polar bears are undoubtedly not paternal. After mating, the male polar bear will solely hang around with the feminine for a number of days earlier than leaving. The feminine does what she desires as properly, typically mating with one other associate in the identical breeding season. This may find yourself along with her giving delivery to offspring from totally different fathers on the similar time.
Whereas most polar bears don’t hibernate like different species of bear (they spend winter on the ocean ice searching seals and increase their fats reserves for the food-scarce summer time on the mainland), pregnant polar bears do enter a hibernation-like state. They may go into their den round October, with cubs being born round 60 days later. They keep within the den for round seven to eight months till the cubs can depart. Throughout this time, they continue to be in a decreased metabolic state and so they don’t eat, drink, urinate or defecate to save lots of vitality.
8. Sadly, the polar bear is the poster animal for local weather change for good motive
It’s no secret that polar bears are going through severe threats from the altering local weather.
They completely depend on the arctic sea ice to entry seals, whales and different marine mammals for meals. They need to construct up their fatty reserves earlier than heading to the food-scarce mainland or islands for the summer time. Nevertheless, with the ocean ice melting earlier and earlier every year, they don’t have enough time to construct up these very obligatory fatty reserves.
Regardless of the plain indisputable fact that they might simply hunt people in the event that they needed, polar bears attempt to keep away from confrontation. A evaluate of assaults by polar bears on people between 1970 and 2014 reported solely 20 deaths in that complete time throughout their whole vary, together with Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia and america. However local weather change might combine issues up and make hungry polar bears determined. Malnourished bears are the probably to assault people at campsites and Inuit settlements.
Scientists now estimate that there are fewer than 26,000 polar bears left within the wild, and given the present state of environmental affairs, they might be extinct by the top of the century. You probably have curiosity in seeing these lovely creatures within the wild, there isn’t any higher time than now. You may be ok with your half in sustainable tourism, as we associate with the World Wildlife Fund. WWF has spent a few years working with tourism operators in areas inhabited by polar bears to search out methods to not solely restrict the impression of vacationers on the bears and their habitat however really contribute to conservation efforts. The results of their work was a powerful and clear set of rules for arctic tourism. On our journeys we fortunately comply with their lead for how one can greatest work together with these creatures for the great of all.