Photo: Rinie van Meurs
8 facts about polar bears that you didn’t know
The African jungle has the lion, the Arctic has the polar bear. This fierce yet cuddly-looking creature dominates the icy wilderness at the top of the food chain. If visitors are lucky, they'll come across the polar bear on a cruise to Svalbard. Check out these facts about polar bears - the king of the ice!
How much does a polar bear weigh?
The average adult female weights about 570 pounds. However, when pregnant, they can reach weights as heavy as 1,100 pounds. A fully grown male weighs around 1,000 pounds – almost twice the size of a female polar bear. They are the world's largest land predator and biggest member of the bear family.
Polar bear diet, what do polar bears eat?
Seals make up most of a polar bear's diet. Although the polar bear hunt for about half its life, the hunts are rarely successful. In addition to seals they also eat small mammals, birds, eggs and vegetation. Svalbard wildlife is diverse, and since the Polar bear have no natural enemies they can eat most of want they can hunt. The huge bears don’t even fear humans, which makes them dangerous. Due to the polar bear threat, everyone travelling outside the settlements must be equipped with appropriate means of frightening and chasing off polar bears.
Polar bear habitat, where can you spot a polar bear?
Although most polar bears are born on land, they spend most of their time at sea. Two of the Arctic's most important habitats for them are the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. On our cruises to Svalbard the chances are high you get to spot a polar bear during our travel through Eastern Svalbard, that boasts the highest population of Polar bears. The arctic circle is the only place in the world where you can see this magnificent creature in its natural habitat.
How far can a polar bear swim?
The longest recorded nonstop swim a polar bear has ever made is 426 miles over nine days straight. Watch out Michael Phelps - that's equivalent to the distance between Washington, D.C., and Boston. During the swim, the female bear lost 22 percent of her body weight. Studies have predicted more long-distance swims are in polar bears' future due to the climate change in the Arctic and the shrinking ice caps. These bears are one of the animals most affected by climate change, with the land literally melting beneath their paws.
Photo: Andrea Hermle, Hans-Wilhelm Wörmann, Stefan Dall, Shutterstock and Linda Drake
How many cubs does a polar bear have?
Female polar bears typically give birth to two cubs or “twins”. The two cubs stay with her for more than two years until they can hunt and survive on their own. Females receive no help from their solitary male mates. The breeding season starts in March and ends in June, each year. The chubs enter therefore the world during the months of November, December and January.
Polar bear lifespan - How many years does a polar bear live?
The average lifespan of the bear in the wild is 15 to 18 years. Polar bears can live until they’re 30 years old, but few bears live for that long. The oldest polar bear in the Artic lived for 32 years, and the oldest known polar bear in a zoological park lived for 45 years. Read more about the Svalbard polar bear and learn more about how Polar Bears live and hunt.
The black polar bear
Polar bears are actually black, not white. Under their white fur - which is great camouflage - polar bears have black skin to better soak in the sun's warmth. Fur even grows on the bottom of their claws, which protects against cold surfaces.
Are there any other names for Polar bear?
In Norway the polar bear are called “isbjorn”, meaning ice bear. In Russia they call the bear “beliy medved” meaning “the white bear”. The Latin name for polar bears is "ursus maritimus," which means sea bear. In Inuit mythology, the polar bear is called Pihoqahiak, the "ever-wandering one." The translation to the words for “polar bear” are quite broad. Some of them include lord of the Arctic and Old man in the fur cloak.