Arctic animal of the day 29: the polar bear

Arctic animal of the day 29. Ok, so since starting the “Arctic animal of the day” series a month ago, I tried to avoid only talking about the animals which everyone knows (the poster children of the Arctic and climate change), as so many other awesome animals never get any attention. That’s why I’ve talked about sea angels, crabs and ravens. But for fullness purposes, I think it’s about that time…
Ursus maritimus, the polar bear, is the “white” sister of the brown bear. Here’s a few facts you might not have known about it…
1) Polar bear fur isn’t actually white! Air pockets in their hair reflect sunlight, making it look white, when in fact it doesn’t have a colour!!! As a result, infrared cameras are incapable of seeing a polar bear in the Arctic! Green-looking polar bears can be seen in zoos and aquariums, as algae get inside the hairs. 
2) Polar bears are awesome swimmers, which can, if they have to, swim non-stop for 321 kilometers!! That’s a long way! They can also swim much faster than any Olympic swimmer (10 km/h).
3) In North America, polar bears now seem to be encountering grizzly bears within their range, and successfully mating with them. The result is a PIZZLY BEAR, which has a bigger head than a normal polar bear and darker markings (see third pic below). As climate change further plays havoc with the ranges of the two bears, we can expect to see more pizzlies in the future.
Polar bears are ranked a vulnerable species. Although eight of the nineteen polar bear populations across the Arctic are decreasing, there are big global efforts for their conservation, including strictly enforced hunting bans. Lots of scientists and activists are investing their lives into these iconic animals, so maybe their future will be ok after all! 🙂

Polar bears are awesome swimmers!
Source: http://www.vpwallpapers.com/polar-bear/

A pizzly bear, bigger than a typical polar bear and with dark face markings
Source: http://www.onearth.org/article/grolar-bears-and-narlugas-rise-of-the-arctic-hybrids

 

 

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