Measuring between 1.8 and 3 metres and weighing 350 to 680 kilos, the polar bear‘s characteristic white colouring is owed to the translucent and hollow hairs of its fur which reflect the sunlight off of the sea ice. With their black skin that allows them to retain their body heat, their extremely dense underfur and their guard hair (a layer of long hairs), the polar bear comfortably withstands the -30°C temperature of the Arctic winter but struggles when the it climbs above 10°C. We could believe that the bear gave its name to the North Pole (arctic comes from the Greek word arktos meaning “bear”), but it was in fact named after the Ursa Minor and Major constellations which allowed sailors to find their way in Antiquity.
Why is the polar bear considered a marine mammal? Why do they like to roll around in the snow so much? How can you tell a male from a female?
Laura Jourdan, PONANT naturalist-guide, shares her knowledge about this fascinating animal: