Ocean Currents » polar bear http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Jul 2016 16:57:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Happy International Polar Bear Day! http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/02/27/happy-international-polar-bear-day/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/02/27/happy-international-polar-bear-day/#comments Sat, 27 Feb 2016 13:00:34 +0000 Katie Green http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11531
We love polar bears! And, when we saw that today was International Polar Bear Day—we jumped for joy. While you sit here reading this fascinating blog, polar bear moms are busy caring for their newborn cubs in their Arctic dens.

If you didn’t love these Arctic bears enough already, we’re giving you six more reasons to love them. Join us in celebrating polar bears today!

1. Polar bears have special padding on their feet to prevent slipping on ice.

These bears are well-equipped to handle the slippery Arctic sea ice. Not only are their paws covered with fur, but their feet are also covered with small bumps called papillae. These bumps help create traction for polar bears on the move. Without the help of papillae, polar bears would be pretty clumsy.

2. Polar bear moms don’t really hibernate.

Instead of truly hibernating, polar bear mothers reside in dens to care for and protect their newborn cubs. This usually happens between January and March each year. Mothers go this entire time without food or water. With the warmth of spring, the new families emerge from their dens in search of food together. Talk about dedication!

3. The largest polar bear ever recorded was a male weighing 2,209 pounds!

Male polar bears typically weigh around 1,000 pounds. Females weigh about half of the typical weight of a male polar bear. That means the largest recorded polar bear was more than double the average weight of an adult male polar bear. This giant bear weighed about as much as a Volkswagen Beetle!

4. Polar bears can slow down their own metabolism.

Polar bears’ diets are rich in fat. If an adult polar bear doesn’t eat for ten days, it can reduce the speed of its metabolism to survive. The reduction in metabolism allows polar bears to use their fat reserves until they can find their next meal. This trait comes in handy considering food can be hard to come by in the Arctic.

5. Polar bears have an incredible sense of smell.

Skilled at hunting, polar bears use their keen smell to locate prey. A polar bear can sniff out a seal on the ice up to 20 miles away. That’s right, 20 miles. That’s like smelling your lunch across the entire city of Austin, Texas.

6. Polar bears need to play in the snow.

Polar bears use snow and Arctic ice as a tool to get rid of debris in their fur and to keep themselves dry and buoyant. Polar bears need to roll around in the snow to keep their fur clean and fluffy. Polar bears actually have transparent hair, and the hollow core of each hair strand also helps polar bears’ buoyancy. Playing in the snow looks like a lot more fun though!

These are just a few of the many reasons to celebrate and adore these amazing marine mammals! See more fun photos of polar bears and all other kinds of ocean critters by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Happy International Polar Bear Day!

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Test Your Ocean Knowledge: Bull Sharks, Polar Bears and Venom http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/11/test-your-ocean-knowledge-bull-sharks-polar-bears-and-venom/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/11/test-your-ocean-knowledge-bull-sharks-polar-bears-and-venom/#comments Thu, 11 Jul 2013 15:24:07 +0000 Carmen Yeung http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6266 polar bear

Credit: Canadian Coast Guard

How much do you know about the waters that cover 70 percent of Earth’s surface and the creatures that call it home? Test your ocean knowledge with our short quiz.

Study these five questions and see how much you know:

  • What is the largest living structure on Earth?
  • How did bull sharks receive their name?
  • What is the biggest fish in the ocean?
  • What is the most venomous marine animal?
  • How are polar bears able to walk on ice?

Stumped? Click the link below to see the answers.

What’s the largest living structure on Earth?

The Great Barrier Reef. This stunning Australian wonder, visible from space, is composed of nearly 3,000 individual reefs and stretches for 1,600 miles.

How did bull sharks receive their name?

Bull sharks have a reputation for being fighters. This characteristic, accompanied by their short and blunt snouts, helped them gain the name “bull shark.”

What is the biggest fish in the ocean?

The whale shark. They can grow to be up to 50 feet long and weigh as much as 40 tons. These gentle giants eat mostly floating organisms that they strain from the water through their 3-feet-wide mouths as they swim.

What is the most venomous marine animal?

The Australian box jellyfish. The venom of these highly advanced predators, often called sea wasps, contains toxins that attack the heart, nervous system and skin cells. Their tentacles can reach 10 feet in length with body sizes reaching up to 1 foot in diameter.

How are polar bears able to walk on ice?

The rough pads and fur of a polar bear’s large paws help it grip the ice more easily and avoid slipping when walking on it.

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This Week’s Top Tweets: January 4-12 http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/01/12/this-weeks-top-tweets-jan-4-jan-12/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/01/12/this-weeks-top-tweets-jan-4-jan-12/#comments Sat, 12 Jan 2013 11:38:01 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4174 It’s been a busy year so far, and we’re only finishing the first full week of 2013. To start off the new year, here are the top five tweets that attracted the most attention in the Twittersphere over the last week:

1. Trapped killer whales freed by shifting ice

A group of killer whales surrounded by ice off the coast of Canada were deemed to have a grim future, but an unexpected shift in wind current moved the ice in a way that allowed them to escape. This surprise happy ending garnered the most attention of our ocean followers this week. This tweet also took away the most favorites.

2. What will your Rippl effect be in 2013?

This tweet gave us all a reminder that keeping up with your ocean-friendly New Year’s resolution can be as simple as downloading our mobile app, Rippl, which suggests weekly tips to help reduce your environmental impact in 2013.

3. Chile making strides in fishing reforms

Whether our followers just wanted to know what a seamount is, what Chile’s new ocean legislation entails or both, this tweet gained a lot of traction–and for good reasons, too! Chile’s government made a groundbreaking decision that other countries can look to model in the future.

4. What big eyes you have!

I don’t know about you, but here at Ocean Conservancy, we’ve read the headline “Release the Kraken” too many times to count this week! This story about the first film of a giant squid in its natural habitat is truly, as one commenter put it, “‘fishtory’ in the making.”

5.Getting up close and personal with a polar bear

This video details the BBC’ Gordon Buchanan’s close encounter with a hungry polar bear. With grown males weighing anywhere from 775-1,200 pounds, this was definitely an intense moment to watch, much less experience!

Make sure you check out our Twitter handle, @OurOcean, to keep up with more stories like these right when they get posted. Have any feedback on our top tweets of the week? Be sure to leave a comment below!

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“To The Arctic” and Drilling in Alaska http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/04/23/to-the-arctic-and-drilling-in-alaska/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/04/23/to-the-arctic-and-drilling-in-alaska/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2012 22:08:23 +0000 Andrew Hartsig http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=131

To the Arctic follows a polar bear mother and her two cubs through a changing world. Image from MacGillivray Freeman Films.

Arctic drilling may not seem like something that affects most of us. After all, when was the last time you had a chance to dive into icy Arctic waters with walruses or follow polar bears across vast stretches of sea ice? But now, you can experience the Arctic from the comfort of a theater seat with “To the Arctic,” a new IMAX® movie by MacGillivray Freeman.

The film, narrated by Meryl Streep, follows a polar bear and her two cubs as they make their way through the rugged Arctic landscape. Along the way, you’ll see amazing images of our rapidly changing world, including stunning footage of wildlife, sweeping stretches of tundra, ghostly northern lights, and sculpted icebergs dotting the ocean.

But there are some things you shouldn’t see in the Arctic—like offshore drilling rigs. This summer, Shell is planning to drill for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off the north and west coasts of Alaska. Drilling for oil in this region would be incredibly risky. The Arctic Ocean is prone to hurricane-force storms, 20-foot swells, sea ice up to 25 feet thick, sub-zero temperatures and months-long darkness. Do these sound like prime conditions for responding to an emergency?

Exploration drilling—like the drilling proposed by Shell this summer—could be the first step toward rapid and unchecked development in the U.S. Arctic. Even if the initial operations go according to plan, Shell’s exploration drilling will bring increased pollution, noise, and air and vessel traffic to Arctic waters. And of course, things might not go as planned: offshore drilling could lead to a major oil spill that would devastate the Arctic ecosystem, people and wildlife. To date, oil and gas companies haven’t shown that they can effectively clean up a major oil spill in real-world Arctic conditions.

Given the risks, now is not the time to allow exploration drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Instead of giving the green light to drilling in the Arctic, the government should focus on identifying and protecting areas in the ocean that are especially important for wildlife and indigenous people. According to a recent U.S. Geological Survey report, there are still major gaps in our scientific understanding of the Arctic Ocean. We should have a research and monitoring plan designed to fill those gaps before drilling goes forward. And industry operators must demonstrate their ability to respond effectively to a large oil spill in real-world Arctic conditions. We still have a chance to get it right in the Arctic, but we need to slow down, do research, and put in place scientifically sound solutions.

To learn more about the Arctic and the threats it faces, click here. And please take action to protect the Arctic here.

©2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment. All Rights Reserved. IMAX® is registered trademark of IMAX Corporation.

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