International Polar Bear Day

Feb 27th, 2019 | By | Category: Featured articles

27.2.2019

International Polar Bear Day is an annual event celebrated every February 27 to raise awareness about the conservation status of the polar bear.

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This special day is organized by Polar Bears International to raise awareness about the impact of global warming and reduced sea ice on polar bear populations. The day encourages people to find ways to reduce their carbon output, such as by turning down their thermostat or driving less. The day has also been used to encourage the installation of energy efficient insulation in houses.

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Many zoos use the day to educate about polar bear conservation and to encourage visitation to polar bear exhibits.

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7 Surprising Polar Bear Facts – Source: Polar Bears International

Test your polar bear knowledge and see if you can choose a favorite!

1. Just like whales, seals, and dolphins, polar bears are considered marine mammals.

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A bear that’s not land- bound? It’s both surprising and true! Polar bears are the only species of bear that depends on the ocean ecosystem to survive. Their life is tied to the sea ice and to the abundant world that blooms, swims, and paddles beneath their paws. This fun fact is even hidden in their scientific name–Ursus maritimus means “sea bear.”

2. The great white bear of the North is not actually white.

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So how do they look white? Each hair shaft is pigment-free and transparent with a hollow core that scatters and reflects visible light, much like what happens with ice and snow. Polar bears look their whitest when they are clean and in high-angle sunlight, especially just after the molt period in spring/summer. Before molting, oil build up in their fur from snacking on seals can make them look yellow.

3. Polar bears are big fans of the snow bath.

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When a polar bear’s coat gets dirty––for example after a meal––they rub and roll their body across the snow to clean their fur. Polar bears like to be clean and dry because matted, dirty, and wet fur is a poor insulator. And in Arctic extremes, insulation is key!

4. Polar bear paws are expertly designed for traversing the slick and shifting sea-scape.

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A polar bear’s paws measure up to 30 centimeters (11.81 inches) across, to help polar bears tread on thin ice. When the ice is very thin, the bears extend their legs far apart and lower their bodies to distribute their weight. Black footpads on the bottom of each polar bear paw are covered by small, soft bumps known as papillae. Papillae grip the ice and keep the bear from slipping. Tufts of fur between its toes and footpads can help with security as well.

5. Polar bears touch noses to ask to share food.

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A polar bear asks another bear for something, such as food, through a nose-to-nose greeting. The guest bear will approach slowly, circle around a carcass, then delicately touch the feeding bear’s nose to ask for permission to share.

6. Unlike other large carnivores, polar bears do not have territories; they have home ranges.

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The sea ice habitat of polar bears is variable in almost every way (prey distribution, freeze up and break up patterns, etc.)–––this lack of predictability removes the potential benefit of defending any sort of territory. Unlike a territory, home ranges are not defended so individual polar bear home ranges overlap with other bears. Current scientific findings show that a polar bear’s home range size can vary over 2000-fold in the same population. Some bears live in a single fjord while others wander areas the size of Texas!

7. Polar bears don’t prefer sea ice to land, they NEED sea ice to survive.

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A polar bear’s hunting and eating patterns depend completely on sea ice. Why? Because seals depend on it––and seals are the only food source with a high enough fat content and enough calories to keep a polar bear healthy. Polar bears can only reach seals from the platform of sea ice. While they are good swimmers, catching a seal in open water is extremely challenging and unlikely. Polar bears also rely on sea ice for traveling, breeding, and sometimes denning.

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  1. I wish an excellent Day to all the Polar Bears
    and to everyone who loves the Polar Bears!
    Happy Polar Bear Day!

    Dear Mervi,
    Thank you for this very nice and necessary page!

    Greetings,
    Evi

  2. Liebe Mervi

    Man kann nur hoffen, dass die Menschen
    sich diese Erkenntnisse hinter die Ohren
    schreiben. Sonst werden wir die Bären
    und andere Tiere der Arktis bald nur
    noch im Zoo bewundern dürfen.

    Grüssle
    Chris

  3. Liebe Mervi,
    die Eisbären kämpfen uns Überleben und daran wird sich
    auch nichts ändern.
    Politik und Wirtschaft muss umdenken wenn sich etwas zu Gunsten der gefährdeten Tiere ändern soll.
    Der letzte Satz ist goldrichtig – es gibt keinen Planet B!!!!
    Danke Dir, Aufklärung ist das Wichtigste!
    Liebe Grüsse Moni K

  4. Dear Mervi!
    Thank you for the interesting article about polar bears. Your collages are wonderful.
    Hugs
    Ludmila

  5. MERVI – zur Zeit kein Durchkommen in die Knuipe – melde mich abends wieder !

  6. Liebe Mervi,

    vielen Dank für deinen Eintrag zum heutigen Eisbärentag,
    der eigentlich auf jeder Zeitung als Schlagzeile stehen sollte,
    denn es gibt keinen Planet B.

    Die sieben Fakten über den Eisbären zeigen außerdem, welch
    faszinierendes Lebewesen in der mittlerweile so bedrohten Arktis lebt.

    Liebe Grüße
    Britta-Gudrun

  7. Dear Mervi!
    Thank you for this touching tribute for the polar bears on the occasion of the International Polar Bear Day.
    Your collages are most beautiful and worrying the same time.
    Hopefully mankind will learn from all mistakes in the past and be able to make a turnaround!
    I must confess I´m quite sceptical…

    Hugs
    Anke

  8. Liebe Mervi,

    danke für die nachdenklichen Zeilen und wunderschönen Collagen zum internationalen Eisbärentag 2019.

    Es wird leider immer nur geredet und diskutiert, anstatt zu Handeln.

    Passender kann man es wirklich nicht ausdrücken als: Es gibt keinen Planet B. !!!

    Liebe Grüße
    Monika

  9. Dear Mervi
    We are running out of time, and the Polar Bears more so… Beautiful images of a tragic story