The polar bear is the world’s largest bear(along with the omnivorous Kodiak bear) with adult males weighing in at a whopping 770to 1,500 pounds.
Polar bears are classified as marine mammals because they spend most of their lives on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean.
They have a thick layer of body fat and a water-repellant coat that insulates them from the cold air and water.
Considered talented swimmers, they can sustain a pace of six miles per hour by paddling with their front paws and holding their hind legs flat like a rudder.
Polar bears spend over 50 percent of their time hunting for food, but less than two percent of their hunts are successful.
Their diet mainly consists of ringed and bearded seals because they need large amounts of fat to survive.
Unlike grizzly bears, polar bears are not territorial.
Although stereotyped as being aggressive, they are usually cautious confrontations and often choose to escape rather than fight.
Polar bears are stealth hunters, and the victim is often unaware of the bear’s presence until the attack is underway.
However, due to the minuscule human population around the Arctic, such attacks are rare.
Although polar bears live solitary lives, they have often been seen playing together for hours at a time and even sleeping in an embrace.
Cubs are especially playful as well.
Among young males, in particular, play-fighting may be a means of practicing for serious competition during mating seasons later in life.
The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with eight of the nineteen polar bear subpopulations currently in decline.
Polar bears are forced to become long-distance swimmers to find food and places to sleep as Arctic ice continues to melt.
New research published April 14 in the journal “Ecography” says that polar bears are swimming longer and longer distances as the ice they depend on for survival disappears.
One-hundred bears were tracked with GPS collars off the northern coasts of Alaska and Canada.
In 2004, only 25 percent of these bears made swims of more than 31 miles, but in 2012, 69 percent of the bears were making these long journeys.
In 2009, one female bear swam for nine days straight without stopping for food or rest. She traveled a total of 250 miles to reach a habitable ice slab.
Dr.Nicholas Pilford with the Institute for Conservation Research told NewsBeat Social his findings provide “another reminder of the rapid pace of environmental change in the arctic.