World Wildlife Day Wisdom Series (1 of 8)Begin
Polar bear fur is translucent, and only appears white because it reflects visible light. But beneath all that thick fur, their skin is actually jet black!
Polar bears main prey consists of ringed seals and bearded seals, though they will also scavenge carcasses or settle for small mammals, birds, eggs and vegetation.
Despite their immense size as adults, polar bear cubs only weigh around half a kilogram (500g) at birth, and are about 30 cm long. Males are born slightly larger than females.
In Inuit mythology, "Nanuk" or "Nanook" was the "master of bears."
Loss of ice from climate change is the number one threat faced by the polar bear and many other arctic species. Polar bears depend on sea ice as a platform from which to hunt seals, rest and breed. The summer sea ice has been decreasing in size for decades and melting for longer periods of time. As ice shrinks, prey becomes less accessible and bears have to travel greater distances, increasing the chances of malnutrition and starvation.
95% of the oldest and thickest ice in the Arctic has been lost just in the past 30 years. Remaining ice is lost at a rate of almost 13% per decade. If carbon emissions continue to rise, the Arctic could be ice-free in the summer by the year 2040.
False. The shrinking sea ice doesn't just make it harder for polar bears to hunt, it affects the abundance of the very prey they rely on. Seals give birth to their pups on the ice, which serves as a platform for nursing and resting. But as ice melts more quickly, pups are forced into the water earlier, increasing the risk of hypothermia and starvation, and fewer make it to adulthood. Younger seals rely on the ice too, as the fish and crustaceans they feed on are located near the edge of the sea ice.
Polar bears are spending longer times on-shore. Due to rapidly rising global temperatures, sea ice has greatly reduced in size and melts for longer periods of time during the summer. In most areas, bears come ashore when the ice melts and wait until the ice refreezes to go back out to hunt. As bears spend longer times on-shore, they become more likely to come into contact and conflict with Arctic coastal communities, especially when they get desperate for food.
Polar bears are not the only species at risk. Countless other animal and plant species depend on natural spaces to thrive yet are losing their habitats and the biodiversity within them at an alarming and unprecedented rate. Add your voice to call on world leaders to take urgent action to protect and restore nature.