We all know of our big white furry friends who somehow live in one of the most abstract places on the planet. There have been enough movies and documentaries made based on these polar bears to truly appreciate them. But then, why are they still heading to extinction?
The Polar Bear, also known as Ursus martimus, is surprisingly classified as a marine mammal. This is because they spend most of their lives on the sea ice. The 20,000-25,0000 species that are left are truly amazing in structure and function. I still cannot fathom how any living thing can live in the Arctic sea ice living through the cold. However, polar bears do! They have a very thick layer of body fat and a water-repellant coat of fur that keeps them insulated from the cold air and water. Some people actually may not know that under the fur, polar bears have black skin but you can only see their true color on their nose.
Even though they are 6-9 feet in length and weight 800-1,300 pounds, these bears are still excellent swimmers. They can swim fairly fast also, paddling with their front paws and creating a rudder with their hind legs by keeping them straight. Unlike many other animals, they have a long life span. These mammals could live up to 30 years of age but most only make it to about 25 years.
It’s difficult to understand how polar bears spend 50% of their time hunting for food but are only successful less than 2% of that time. We know how easy it is to get our own food. It’s so difficult for them because of the lack of other living things in their ecosystem. Their diet is mostly ringed and bearded seals because of the large amount of fat they can consume that they need in order to survive.
Polar Bears are not the pack kind of animals. They most live on their own except when mating or a mother is raising her cubs. I know we all love to see little cubs of all animals and people lucky enough to live on the Hudson Bay may be lucky enough to catch polar bear cubs playing with each other. Their form of communication is through growls, grunts, roars, or even squeals.
Climate change would have the largest effect of the endangerment of polar bears in this case. Since they only live on the ice, the rise in temperature has been melting their lands away. Sadly, especially in the summer, the bears will come ashore because the ice is not thick enough to travel on and rely on fat that is stored until the ice refreezes and they can go back out. Malnutrition is very common in these bears as well as the fear of cubs starving during this wait. Because of their habitat literally melting, polar bears are forced to come into contact more regularly with humans which never ends well. Hunting is still a large problem on top of everything else because of their beautiful white fur.
These are very unique animals and if the human race does not acknowledge this is the next couple years, these polar bears will cease to exist without a doubt. But on a positive note….. enjoy the pictures!