While there are plenty of animals to be seen on your polar holidays, one in particular stands out among the rest as emblematic of the rugged wilderness – the mighty Polar Bear. The polar bear is a bear native to the Arctic Ocean and its surrounding seas. The world’s largest predator found on land, an adult male weighs around 400–680 kg (880–1,500 lb), while an adult female is about half that size.
There’s a reason it’s often recognised as an iconic animal – it holds the honour of being both the world’s largest land-dwelling carnivore, and also the world’s largest bear.
The Polar Bear is largely native within the Arctic Circle and can be found living in some of the coldest and most unforgiving climates. Its native habitat revolves around the cold waters near the “Arctic Ring of Life” which is an area comprised of the Arctic inter-island archipelagos and the sea-ice covering the Continental Shelf.
The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with 5 of the 19 polar bear subpopulations in decline. For decades, unrestricted hunting raised international concern for the future of the species; populations have rebounded after controls and quotas began to take effect. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of Arctic indigenous peoples, and the hunting of polar bears remains important in their cultures.
The impact of global warming on polar bears is having far reaching effects. Polar bears are a part of a very delicately balanced ecosystem. As global temperatures rise the Arctic sea ice is melting and it is reported by the U.S. Geological Survey Office that there will be a reduction of as much as 2/3′s in the polar bear population over the next 50 years.
If human beings do not start changing behaviors which are damaging to our environment we may soon have to explain to our children and grandchildren why we allowed polar bears to disappear, even although we were fully aware of the danger of that actually happening.