The biggest carnivorous land animal on Earth is the polar bear. From the tip of the nose to the end of their incredibly short tail, they are around seven to eight feet long. Polar bear males are much bigger than females. While a giant female is almost half as big as a large male, the latter can weigh more than 1,700 pounds (up to 1,000 pounds). After a productive hunting season, bears can weigh up to 50% more than they do at the beginning of the next one; the majority of this extra weight is deposited fat. A young polar bear only weighs around 1.5 pounds.
Numerous morphological modifications made by the polar bear help it stay warm and survive in its frigid environment. The outer layer of the bear’s fur is hollow and reflects light, giving the fur a white hue that aids in camouflaging the animal. The only place where the polar bear’s true black skin can be seen is on the snout. Polar bears also have a thick layer of fat under their skin that serves as insulation to keep the body warm. This is crucial during the bitterly cold Arctic winter and when swimming. Due to its massive size, the bear produces heat by having less surface area exposed to the cold per unit of body mass (pounds of flesh).
North of the Arctic Circle to the North Pole is where polar bears are most common. In Manitoba, Canada’s Hudson Bay, there are certain populations that are located south of the Arctic Circle. Alaska, Canada, Russia, Greenland, and several northern islands held by Norway, such Svalbard, are home to polar bears.
Sea ice that develops over the open waters where their seal prey resides is essential to the survival of polar bears. When sea ice is not available, they will spend time on land (and most pregnant polar bear females make their dens on shore near the coast). Because they can swim well, polar bears can travel great distances between the beach and the sea ice. They risk drowning if a storm develops while they are swimming for longer and longer periods of time (because to the warmer water). For cubs, these lengthy swims and storms are frequently challenging. Polar bears regularly swim between floating ice islands when the ice is breaking away.
The multi-year ice, which is becoming less common but will probably last longer in the island archipelago of northwest Canada than in Alaska or off the northern coast of Russia, is more vital to polar bears than the annual ice, which melts and recovers every year.
Polar bears, unlike other bear species, virtually entirely consume meat (carnivorous). They occasionally consume bearded seals but primarily eat ringed seals. When hunting seals, polar bears wait for them to surface on the sea ice to breathe. The polar bear will bite or grasp the seal when it gets close to the surface and bring it onto land so it can feast. Walrus and whale corpses are also consumed by them. Although polar bears will look for alternative food sources such as bird eggs, none of them are abundant enough to support their massive body size and many populations.
Seal pups that are born and dwell in burrows on the Arctic ice are another crucial food source in most places. By using smell and other cues, the polar bear recognizes these dens and charges through the ceiling of the den to seize the baby seals. In Hudson Bay, earlier ice melt limits the number of seal pups that are available in the spring. Polar bears are the top predators in the Arctic; nothing (apart from local hunters) can eat them since they consume everything.