Sunday, March 13, 2011

Polar Bear

True Wild Life | Polar Bear | The polar bear is native to the Arctic Ocean but the polar bear is thought to be a sub-species of the brown bear. The polar bears scientific name is thought to mean sea bear, probably due to the fact that polar bear often spends long periods of time hunting in or on the freezing Arctic waters. The polar bear is one of the largest mammals on land with adult males often reaching over 800kg. The polar bear is the largest species of bear, with only a few grizzly bear males getting bigger than the average adult polar bear and these individuals are often polar-grizzly bear hybrids.

Most of the polar bears diet is comprised of seal, meaning the bears spend a lot of time on the frozen sea hunting the seal which is risky work especially when the ice begins to melt. The polar bear also eats fish but they are not as easy to spot (or catch) as a seal for a polar bear. The polar bears are often forced to swim for long distances in search of food, but tend to corner their prey towards the more frozen ice, as its easier for the polar bear to hunt on solid ground than it is for the polar bear to hunt in water, particularly as the seal is such a good swimmer.

Despite its bright white appearance, the fur of a polar bear is in fact clear and not white as it may seem. The polar bear has black skin under its long, thick coat of fur that together with the white from the surrounding snow, creates the illusion of a white coat!

Every year, the polar bear population is decreasing due to a mixture of hunting by humans and the ongoing effects of climate change. As the planet continues to get warmer, the sea ice is thawing earlier which means that the polar bear hunting season is getting shorter and shorter. Those human settlements within the Arctic Circle are seeing more polar bears every year as the polar bears are forced to make their way towards what they believe to be food. Many polar bears end up being shot when they venture close to towns although some areas are now taking measures to transport the polar bears away using helicopter rather than killing them.

Scientists have estimated that if climate change continues to have such a drastic effect on the polar bear's habitat, then the polar bear could be extinct within the next 30 years.

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