Migration of Polar Bears

Polar Bears can take the cold but not the heat. When the environment heats up they move farther north. They are world travelers and inadvertantly are ambassodors of peace: On their annual trek from warmer to colder climates,the have forced to work together to assure their home places and habitats remain according to their needs. They call the arctic home and their favorite spot in the entire world is standing on sea ice near an open area of water fishing for seals. Their home range in a year’s time can be around 135, 135 miles.

It’s an annual habit for them to walk across the ice from Alaska to Russia; from Canada to Greenland; and to Norway. Because of their international lodging habit the five countries that these large 600 and 700 lb. large white bears call home got together in 1973 and created a law protecting them. The United States, Russia, Canada, Greenland and Norway signed into law The International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears. The scientist from all these countries works closely together to see to their survival.

How do these creatures find food if the sea is frozen over? There are favorite spots these large arctic animals like to inhabit and they are called leads and polunyas. Leads are cracks in the ice that are often temporary due to weather conditions or some other interference that won’t allow the underneath water to freeze; polynyas are areas of open water that never freeze and are surrounded by frozen ice. Polar bears stand on the surrounding sea ice and fish for seal.

No doubt dear to the polar bears are “Arctic Rings of Ice”. These are rich areas with numerous leads and polynyas, and are favorite fishing sites for polar bears. Polynyas are well known areas that undersea creatures inhabit because they must surface now and then to feed and to breathe. They are fortunate if there are no polar bears waiting to reach out with their long snouts and forepaws and grab them as they come up for air.

These largest of creatures are powerfully built to travel and to maneuver over the slick ice and snow and to fish with their long necks. Their back legs are longer than their front legs. This makes their hind parts higher than the front part. This, when they are standing on the ice give them leverage when reaching down to snatch a seal from out of the cold water.

Their large feet essentially act as snow shoes. Their back paws are elongated while their forepaws are rounded. Both are covered with pads with traction like bumps to make it possible for them to travel in the snow easily. Their head is somewhat oblong and small so as not to get in the way of their traveling nature needs. Their muzzle is elongated and
Their snout is black and tough. Their smallish eyes are dark brown and close together and have a forward look.

Their white coloring is oily and their fur reflects light. Sometimes it looks snow white and at other time it has a yellowish sheen to it. The polar bear’s skin underneath their thick coat of fur is black. They are a sight to behold and although large in size they do often somehow blend in with their backgrounds. Churchill, Canada – Manitoba – hosts a thousand or more of these visitors each year. They gather at this site each October and wait for the ice to freeze on the Hudson Bay. Then they begin their annual picnic of seal hunting. They gather here since Churchill is in the middle of their migration route.

Naturally, this is a big tourist attraction for those wanting to get a closer view of these magnificent creatures. However, they are dangerous to be near and keeping everyone safe and out of harm’s way are more than a full time job for those who watch over both polar bears and people.

Source: http://www.pbs.org.wnet./nature/polarbears