Polar bears are among the cutest, and at first glance appear to be cuddliest animals on the planet. However like many wild animals they are actually quite ferocious. If you happen to be on a polar bear expedition in the arctic, you’d even have a chance to see a family up close and personal. (Just not too close.)
Now that we’re imagining the thought of actually going on a polar bear expedition, you may want to arm yourself with some fun facts to share with your travel mates!
1. Adult females often weigh between 500 and 600 pounds. That’s not not bad considering their male partners weigh double that amount. Definitely brings a new meaning to the phrase “bear hug”!
2. Ask anyone what color a polar bear is and they’ll reply “white” with total confidence. The fact is, their fur is actually transparent and holds no color. It only appears white because it reflects visible light. Bonus: The transparent fur also traps in the sun’s heat to help keep the polar bear warm!
3. When polar bears swim, they use their large front paws to propel themselves through the water and their back legs to steer. They can actually move pretty fast at approximately at 6 mph. Finally, (and this is something I’ve always wished I could do…) their nostrils close when they’re under water!
4. Polar Bears can go days, even weeks, without eating. In order to adjust to an environment where food is not always available, polar bears know how to manage what humans would definitely consider deprivation. If a polar bear is unable to catch breakfast, lunch, or dinner for more than seven to ten days, their metabolism will slow down and go into starvation mode until it finds its next meal.
5. Polar bear cubs learn to freeze, or “play dead”, and remain still while momma bear hunts for food. If they’re caught moving, mom will discipline them, with a smack to the head. (I swear I’m not making this up!) Keep in mind, polar cubs only weigh a pound when they’re born and are take their time growing up! Females reach full size around age five, and males around ten. (Imagine getting whacked with the hand of a 500 pound mother!)
6. Not all facts on polar bears are fun though. Two-thirds of polar bears could disappear by 2050. Due to society’s passivity on climate change, our planet’s temperature continues to rise and polar sea ice continues to melt. Polar bears depend on sea ice to hunt. Sadly, studies predict earth will continue to warm to the point where if enough sea ice continues to melt, it will lead to the disappearance and passing of two-thirds of polar bears by 2050. Currently, the decline in sea ice is already compelling polar bears to swim such long distances that they are drowning from exhaustion.
Of course, it does not have to be this way. The threat to polar bears is human-caused and thus the solution has to be human-based. The next time you’re on that polar bear expedition, remind your ship mates we can ensure this iconic species of the arctic continues to thrive.