Churchill Videos of the Week – Polar Bears in Water
This video of a male polar bear swimming in frigid Arctic seas displays how polar bears have increased their range of habitat in ice – free waters after break – up. Searching for seals for meals has extended past the traditional hunting season and the king of the Arctic can be found 60 miles or more from land swimming between scattered ice floes.
Polar bears have a different way of keeping warm from that of seals and whales. The latter two mammals species have blubber that contains protein and allows for body structure to have a springy, tough fibrous consistency enabling ease of movement in water. Polar bears do not have blubber but rather a layer of adipose fat up to five inches thick that facilitates energy storage for the shoulder seasons when food is scarce. Since polar bears spend the majority of time on land or ice above the water they rely more on the insulation of their fur.
Polar bear’s thick underfur is topped by varied guard hair lengths creating an incredible insulation buffer for the fat layer. The temperature of the fat closest to the polar bears skin is nearly the same as that close to the body core. This temperature consistency allows polar bears to conserve energy effectively.
Polar bear fur is actually transparent and hollow and appearing white from reflecting light. Polar bear fur appears whitest when they just emerge from water and sunlight comes from higher angles. molting occurs in spring and ends by later summer. Seal oil and dirt accumulating in their fur can cause a common yellow tint throughout a good part of the year. The video below illustrates how the fat layer of polar bears works as opposed to blubber of whales and seals.