11 facts you didn’t know about Polar Bears
1. Polar Bear numbers are predicted to decline by 30% by 2050.
Due to climate change, Polar Bears are finding it more difficult to find food and as a result Polar Bear numbers are decreasing. Scientists have estimated that if the current trend continues then we could lose up to 30% of Polar Bears by 2050.
2. Less than 2% of Polar Bear hunts are successful
Even though Polar Bears spend half their lives hunting, less than 2% of their hunts are successful. Climate change is not helping these figures.
3. Polar Bears can smell their prey from up to 1km away
Polar Bears use their strong sense of smell to find holes in the ice that seals use for breathing. They then wait patiently by the holes waiting for the seals to appear and then they attack. They can even smell a seal in water under 1 metre of compacted snow.
4. Male Polar Bears can weigh as much as 10 men
Male Polar Bears can weigh up to 800kg and can measure up to 3 metres long. They are twice the size of female polar bears and are classified as the largest land carnivore.
5. Scientists can extract Polar Bear DNA from their footprints in the snow.
WWF has worked with DNA specialist SPYGEN to develop a new technique where Polar Bear DNA can be isolated from their footprints.
6. They can swim constantly for a few days at a time.
Polar Bears can get up to speeds of 6mph in the water as their body is well adapted to swimming. Their strength allows them to swim for a few days without tiring.
7. Polar Bears are actually black
Polar Bears fur is actually translucent but appears white because it reflects visible light. Underneath the fur, their skin is actually black.
8. Polar Bears are classified as marine mammals.
Polar Bears are the only bear species to be considered marine mammals. This is because they spend most of their lives on the sea ice for food and habitat.
9. There are 19 sub-populations of Polar Bear.
There are currently 26,000 Polar Bears in the wild and these bears can be divided into 19 sub-populations. 1 of these sub-populations is thriving and increasing, 5 are stable, 4 are currently in decline and there is currently not enough data on the other 9 sub-populations.
10. Grizzly- Polar Bear hybrids exist.
Sometimes called ‘Grolar Bears’ and sometimes called ‘Pizzly Bears’, the existence of this hybrid was confirmed in 2006. The interbreeding between these two bears is unsurprising considering that Polar Bears evolved from brown bears over 150,000 years ago.
11. Climate change is not the only change threatening Polar Bears.
As well as climate change threatening the livelihood of Polar Bears, the species is also under threat from the oil and gas industries. Human and Polar Bear conflict is also on the rise and the human species explores the Arctic and its possibilities.