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Conservation Africa News Magazine | African Wildlife & Conservation News

Polar Bears Adaptations – Polar Bear Eating Plastic Oil Bottle on Cape Churchill?


Conservation Awareness

Polar Bears Adaptations – Polar Bear Eating Plastic Oil Bottle on Cape Churchill?

Polar Bears Adaptations – Polar Bear Eating Plastic Oil Bottle on Cape Churchill?

It was devastating to watch this polar bear munch on a plastic oil bottle. The ice was late coming in this year and the bears were anxiously waiting to hunt again. Is this bear bored? Hungry yes.

Polar Bears Adaptations – Polar Bears in Trouble

The polar bears (Thalarctos maritimus) live in the Arctic regions of the north near open water where they can find their main source of food which are seals. These bears are huge with adults at 7 to 8 ½ feet tall and up to 1,600 pounds. Polar bears are white to creamy white all year round which gives them excellent camouflage against the Arctic snow when hunting. Along with the Arctic fox, the polar bear is the most northerly located land mammal on earth.

Polar Bears Adaptations - Polar Bear Eating Plastic Oil Bottle?

Polar bears have long fascinated us. With their thick, white coats, they look incredibly cuddly, particularly the cubs. In truth, they are the biggest and most powerful bears on the planet. Alas, they may be added to the endangered species list.

Unlike other species of bears, polar bears have longer necks and smaller heads making them appear more streamlined. Despite their large sizes, they are incredibly fast being able to run up to 25 miles per hour. At speeds like this, a polar bear can outrun a reindeer. They are also excellent swimmers being able to swim at about 3 miles per hour but for considerable distances.

Polar Bears Adaptations: Facing Extinction Due To Climate Change

Polar bears are an amazingly beautiful animal. Unfortunately, they are under a lot of pressure as a species due to climate change in the Arctic. Receding ice and pollution issues are leading to concerns polar bears may be facing extinction. To better understand polar bears, here’s an overview of this amazing animal.

While penguins are only found in Antarctica, polar bears are only found in the Arctic Circle. This, of course, means they are particularly susceptible to any environmental changes in the Arctic.

Polar bears are the largest bear species by over 400 pounds on average. They are primarily solitary creatures. For food, the seal is always on the menu, but they will also scavenge if they come across something tasty. Interestingly, polar bears never drink water. They get it all from their meals.

Polar bears are known for their beautiful white coats. In truth, the coats are not white. The hairs are colourless, hollow tubes that absorb the light giving them the bears their white colour. Polar bear skin is actually black like their noses. A common myth is the hollow tubes of polar bear skin can act like fibre optics for your phone. This myth has been disproved, but it gives you an idea of the nature of the hairs.

Female polar bears usually give birth in the last two months of the year. They almost always give birth to twins. When it is time to do so, the mothers will dig dens out of the snow and ice. They will remain in the den without food until the cubs are able to leave.

When born, polar bear cubs are absolutely tiny. They weigh less than one pound, which is pretty amazing considering an adult polar bear can weigh 1,100 pounds on average. After birth, the mother will stay with the cubs for two years and train them in all aspects of polar bear etiquette. After that, she abandons them to their own fates. The fathers take no part in the raising of the cubs.

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As with many animals, polar bears have some unique characteristics. They can walk up to 40 miles a day and swim up to 60. To catch seals, they stand over a breathing hole and wait for a seal to come up for air. They then swat the seal with their left paw, always their left paw for some unknown reason. After eating, they can go for five days without swatting another seal.

Polar Bears Adaptations – Winters Hunting

During winters, they spend most of their time on the ice floes hunting seals. Polar bears have rough, leathery pads on the bottoms of their feet to maintain footholds on slippery ice surfaces. Their adaptation to the cold Arctic waters is even more impressive.

Their thick coats of fur trap a deep layer of insulating air around their bodies. An inner layer of fur is so compact that it is almost impossible to get it. An outer layer of long guard hairs mats together in the water which forms another layer over the inner layer. After a polar bear leaves the water, it simply shakes its body which results in most of the water being thrown right off leaving the bear almost dry. These protective layers of fur ensure that the polar bear’s skin is kept dry most of the time, even while in the Arctic waters.

Polar bears hunt seals by waiting for seals to come through holes in the ice to breathe. They also stalk their prey utilizing their white camouflage abilities against the mounds of ice. Sometimes polar bears have been known to crawl on their bellies until they are close enough to rush their prey, particularly if no cover is available. Besides seals, polar bears will eat Arctic foxes, birds, baby walruses and even man if they are extremely hungry.

Males and females stay apart for most of the year except during the summer mating season. Females tend to breed only every other year and when they do, usually 1 to 4 cubs are born from March to April. The polar bear cubs stay with their mothers for 1 to 2 years. The life span of polar bears can be up to 34 years.

Polar Bears Adaptations – Endangered List

The Inuit hunt polar bears for their fat, tendons and fur. Scientists say that climate changes have been reducing the ice floes in the Arctic which has disrupted the polar bear’s feeding grounds and migration patterns. There are estimates of about 25,000 to 30,000 polar bears left in the world with 60 per cent of them in the Canadian Arctic region.

Their populations are thought to be stable for now but some speculate that the species is at risk. Some think that if climate changes continue at its present rate and if worldwide hunting is not adequately controlled, polar bears could face extinction in about 100 years. There is presently much debate on adjusting annual hunting quotas of polar bears, even for Inuit hunters, to further help protect these great bears.

As of the writing of this article, polar bear populations are under duress as the Arctic undergoes fundamental changes. Ice is melting and so is the territory of the polar bear. Latest estimates indicate only less than 25,000 polar bears remain.

 

 

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