As much as I wish I could travel the globe, avoiding Summer wherever I go, I must suffer through a couple more months of Aussie heat. And, as Melbourne swelters though a 41 degree Celcius day, I’m doing whatever I can to distract myself from the heat. Of course, as with everything I do, it lead me to tattoos.
It’s not even a week into the new year and I’m presenting you with the second post in my new Animal Facts + Tatts series. Keeping with the cold weather theme, the chosen animal for this post is the polar bear. Without further ado, here are 20 polar bear facts and tatts.
Russia and Canada refer to polar bears as white bears, Norwegians call them ice bears, and the Latin scientific name for polar bears, Ursus maritimus translates to maritime bear.
A 100,000 year-old polar bear fossil was found on Prince Charles Foreland in 2004 – the bear family are thought to have existed for almost 40 million years.
Polar bears are not thought to be their own species as they share much of the same DNA with brown bears.
This similarity in DNA has resulted in polar-grizzly hybrids being born in captivity and the wild – producing what is named a grolar bear or pizzly bear.
Polar bears are found in Arctic Circle, but as far south as Newfoundland.
They populate areas of Greenland, Norway, Russia, Canada, and the United States (Alaska).
Polar bears have not been studied as closely as other animals, but biologists believe their population to be anywhere as low as 20,000 worldwide.
Greenland’s coat of arms features a silver polar bear on a blue shield.
Male polar bears are twice the size of females, weighing over 400kg and measuring up to 3m in length.
It may appear that polar bears have white or tan fur, but it is actually transparent – a gene mutation causes the lack of pigment.
After a kill and feeding, polar bears wash themselves in sea water or snow.
In areas of the world, polar bears are forced to retreat to land during Summer months and wait until ice returns.
Polar bears do not hibernate like other bear species, but they can go for months at a time without food – their body feeds of its fat reserves.
When ice begins to melt (whether due to a change in season or caused by global warming) polar bears are capable of swimming continuously for days at a time.
Polar bears overheat at temperatures above 10 °C (50 °F). I now feel even more disgusted that these animals are forced to live captive at Sea World in Queensland.
The hearing of polar bears is comparable to that of humans, however they can detect the smell of seals from 1.6km away.
Seals are the polar bear’s food of choice, where in addition to food, the seal’s blubber is metabolised to produce water for the polar bear.
Polar bears generally avoid the red meat of seals, instead choosing to consume the animal’s skin and blubber.
The main cause of death with polar bears is starvation, being either injured or too old to hunt.
In the folklore of Inuit and Alaska natives, polar bears are respected due to the belief of a close spiritual connection with humans.