What do seals eat on the tundra

Info sheet polar bear

Polar Bear (Corel Corporation)

Adaptation to the cold, way of life, threat

"The King of the Arctic"

This is what the polar bear is often called, and rightly so. It is the largest and most powerful predator in the Arctic Ocean. Male polar bears can grow up to 3 m long and weigh 800 kg. The average polar bear is 2.5 m long and weighs 500 kg, the females are slightly smaller. The Inuit call the polar bear "Nanuk" - "great hunter". It is estimated that there are around 20,000 of them in the Arctic.
How does the polar bear live in the hostile world of the Arctic?

Adaptation to the cold

Anyone who lives in the Arctic has to be able to withstand the cold. The polar bear is perfectly adapted to life in a cold environment with its entire body.
Its thick white fur insulates well from the cold because the hair is hollow. The skin is black and can therefore absorb heat radiation from the sun particularly well. Underneath, a layer of fat up to 10 cm thick provides additional protection against the cold. Its broad paws prevent it from sinking deep into the snow and, with the exception of the ball of the toes, are hairy. The ears are small and also densely covered with fur. The temperature in the paws and ears is significantly lower than regulated inside the body, so that there is no great loss of heat for the body.

How does the polar bear live?

Polar bear with her cub (Corel Corporation)

Most of the year the polar bear lives solitary. Mainly during the mating season between April and June, the polar bears are also found in groups. In order to survive, the animals are almost always in search of food. They are good runners, they cover distances of up to 60 km a day. They are also excellent swimmers and divers. They prefer to hunt seals on the open water from ice floes, their favorite food. With a single swipe of the paw, the polar bears try to kill the seals at their breathing holes in the ice. But by no means all forays are successful and the polar bears often have to starve for weeks. It is a godsend for the polar bears when they find a stranded whale. Then you can usually see a large group of animals eating for days. In winter, when the Arctic ice expands, the polar bears migrate south into the tundra and again north in summer. In addition to seals, they feed on fish, clams, crabs and bird eggs; They also eat plant foods such as berries and grasses.

How does the polar bear raise her cubs?

In November, the pregnant polar bears visit areas with deeply snow-covered valleys. There they dig a cave in the snow where they give birth to their young in December or January. Usually there are two, sometimes three or four offspring. At birth, they are naked and blind, no bigger than a guinea pig and weigh only half a kilo. The mother bear and her little ones stay in the snow cave until spring and live only on their fat reserves. Then the polar bear cubs are so big that they can leave the cave with them. The young bears stay with their mother for two years and learn everything they need to survive in the Arctic. After that, each animal goes its own way.

Is the polar bear threatened?

Polar bears have no natural enemies other than humans and are protected in most areas. Nevertheless, they are threatened - by global warming and man-made climate change. In the last few years the ice in the Arctic has been receding more and more. As a result, the polar bears lose large parts of their most important hunting ground - the pack ice floes on the sea.

Source: Geography Information Center
Author: Eberhard Pyritz
Published by Klett
Location: Leipzig
Source date: 2009
Page: www.klett.de
Processing date: May 27, 2012

Polar bear, arctic

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