Thursday, October 4, 2012
Watching Polar Bears in the Arctic
Near the very top of the world sits the northernmost region of the Arctic. Polar holidays to the area that focus on Polar Bear watching will take you into some of the cold and often isolated lands that the Arctic encompasses, such as parts of Canada, Finland, The United States, Norway, Greenland, Iceland, and Russia.
To head to this frozen, northernmost part of the planet requires a lot of preparation and planning, but seeing the polar animals in their natural habitats makes a trip to the Arctic unique and unforgettable.
The Polar Bear is largely native within the Arctic Circle and can be found living in some of the coldest and most unforgiving climates.
Its native habitat revolves around the cold waters near the "Arctic Ring of Life" which is an area comprised of the Arctic inter-island archipelagos and the sea-ice covering the Continental Shelf.
Polar holidays to locate and observe these large, white bears can reinforce the popular image of their cute and cuddly nature; but do not be fooled, the Polar Bear is the largest land carnivore and is also the world's largest bear, a title it shares with the Kodiak Bear.
As one of the largest carnivores, the Polar Bear's diet consists almost wholly of seals, and polar holidays to observe these magnificent bears in their natural habitat will possibly involve watching them hunt their prey.
The Polar Bear hunts the seals by using their highly evolved sense of smell to detect the breath of the seals, who pop their noses into the air at ice holes to breathe.
The bears creep to the holes and wait until they smell their target breathing, then reach in and pull out the seal with their claws. On your polar holidays you may also have the opportunity to see the Polar Bears stalk the seals on the surface of the ice.
Stalking, for the Polar Bear, is a long process that involves creeping closer and closer to the seals without being noticed.
Sometimes, though rare, the bears have been known to cover the black of their noses with their paws to make themselves as fully camouflaged as possible.
One of the most beloved images captured on polar holidays are photographs of Polar Bear cubs.
Cubs are born between November and February; if you time your trip correctly to coincide with the post-birth season in the spring and summer months, you will stand an excellent chance of seeing the young cubs coming out of the dens with their mothers for the first time.
For the first few weeks the mother and, usually, two cubs will stay near the den, after which, they begin the long trek to the ice fields where the mother can hunt seals.
The cubs stay with their very affectionate mothers until they are close to two and a half years of age before they are sent off on their own to begin their independent lives.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer. If you're looking for polar holidays, Naturetrek specialises in expert-led natural history and wildlife tours worldwide. Naturetrek brings over 25 years of experience to polar holidays and other spectacular regions on Earth.
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