|About the Arctic
About Polar Bears
Perhaps more than any other animal, polar bears are purely creatures of the icea remarkable, ephemeral terrain that comes as a gift of cold. – Richard Nelson, author and conservationistSpecial adaptations
Polar bears are marine mammals, superbly adapted to life on or near sea ice. Thick layers of fur and fat keep them warm. Their creamy color serves as a camouflage. Large, flat paws act as snowshoes and swimming paddles. Acute eyesight, excellent hearing, and a keen sense of smell help guide them to their preyeven in the winter darkness.Shrewd and ingenious hunters
Polar bears use the ice as a platform to track and prey upon seals. Spring is their most important hunting season. They take advantage of the new burst of life on the thin ice over the continental shelf to fatten themselves up in preparation for the lean hunting months of summer. When food is short, polar bears can slow their metabolism for survival.Ice isn't optional
Descended from grizzlies, polar bears have evolved over 250,000 years to thrive on the ice-covered Arctic Ocean. However, unlike their grizzly ancestors, polar bears are not equipped to survive solely on land. They need the iceand the blubber-rich animals that congregate thereto survive.
Photograph by Steven Kazlowski