Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are within the information on a regular basis because the “poster animal” of local weather change, however outdoors 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 learn about them?
Listed below are eight info about polar bears that may depart you much more enamored with these beastly beauties. There’s positively much more to those Arctic-dwelling bears than what most wildlife lovers know.
1. They really share meals fairly properly with Arctic foxes
You may suppose an enormous, gnarly, hungry polar bear would gobble up any animal that got here shut. However nope—environment friendly polar bears in regular circumstances are inclined to solely eat animals with a lot of high-calorie fatty blubber (is smart 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 known as a mutualistic symbiotic relationship with Arctic foxes. The polar bear, after gnawing on the blubber of a marine animal, will normally depart the meaty a part of the carcass behind. Arctic foxes observe polar bears and scavenge on these stays.
They’re additionally well mannered sharers amongst themselves. After they have entry to bigger marine mammals reminiscent of beluga whales, there will be over 3,000 kilos of meals to share amongst a bunch of polar bears. When one polar bear needs to share one other bear’s meals, they’ll slowly circle their manner in 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 stay off a food plan of each animals and vegetation, there isn’t precisely an abundance of plants within the arctic tundra. Polar bears are carnivorous, and their main food plan is ringed and bearded seals. That being mentioned, polar bears are opportunistic hunters and in the summertime, once they can’t hunt seals, will at occasions flip to many different meals sources to outlive. This could embrace birds, terrestrial mammals and even vegetation reminiscent of 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 circumstances, they might fortunately munch on solely seals and that might be that. A polar bear can burn via 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 take care of her physique mass. I can’t even think about what number of vegetation they must eat to cowl their caloric wants!
3. For those who occur to be a misplaced arctic explorer and are ravenous, suppose twice about consuming polar bear meat
Though it’s unlawful for most individuals to hunt polar bears, there are normally some exceptions for Indigenous populations who’ve relied on them as a supply of meals for a lot of lots of of years. However, they positively know what they’re doing. Polar bear meat should be very effectively cooked, because it usually is stuffed with Trichinella spiralis parasites. These trigger trichinosis, which in extreme instances could cause demise. Consuming polar bear liver can also be extremely harmful, as a result of it’s so excessive in vitamin A that it could 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 most likely 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 truly 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 via—thrice the longest distance ever swam directly by a human!
5. Polar bears aren’t truly 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 a polar bear that these hairs are be white, they’re truly translucent. They solely look white as a result of they replicate the daylight.
Generally on our Churchill Basic Polar Bear Journey, we see polar bears underneath a grey sky they usually 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 type within the guard hairs, letting algae in to develop, particularly when they’re stored in hotter climates. One other enjoyable truth 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 much 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 scent is a complete different matter. Based on the oldsters at Guinness World Information, polar bears have probably the most delicate nostril of any mammal that lives on land. They’ll scent prey as much as 20 miles away! Even when an animal is hiding underneath three ft of dense snow, they will’t disguise from a polar bear. The bear will scent them with zero drawback.
7. Females polar bears can provide delivery to cubs from completely different fathers on the identical time
Polar bears are polygynous and can hardly mate with the identical bear in several years. Male polar bears are positively 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 needs as effectively, usually mating with one other associate in the identical breeding season. This could find yourself together with her giving delivery to offspring from completely different fathers on the identical time.
Whereas most polar bears don’t hibernate like different species of bear (they spend winter on the ocean ice searching seals and build up 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 diminished metabolic state they usually 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 dealing with critical 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 have 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 vital fatty reserves.
Regardless of the apparent incontrovertible fact that they may simply hunt people in the event that they wished, 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 the US. However local weather change may 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 could be extinct by the top of the century. When you have curiosity in seeing these lovely creatures within the wild, there isn’t any higher time than now. You possibly can 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 seek out methods to not solely restrict the affect of vacationers on the bears and their habitat however truly contribute to conservation efforts. The results of their work was a robust and clear set of rules for arctic tourism. On our journeys we fortunately observe their lead for the way to greatest work together with these creatures for the great of all.