The polar bear (Ursus maritimus), also known as the white bear, northern bear, or sea bear, is native to the Arctic. It is one of the two largest land carnivore species and the apex predator within its range. It is well-adapted to its habitat: its thick blubber and fur insulate it against the cold and its translucent fur (which appears white or cream-coloured) camouflages it from its prey.
The bears have short tails and small ears that would help to reduce heat loss and the bear has a streamlined small head and lengthy body helping it to swim. The polar bear is a semi-aquatic marine mammal and hunts well on land and on the sea ice, as well as in the water. More..
Polar bears, or their tracks, have been reported almost as far north as the pole; however, scientists believe few bears frequent areas north of 88° north latitude. The northern Arctic Ocean has little food for them.
The polar bears’ southern range is limited by the amount of sea ice that forms in the winter. Polar bears prefer to travel on sea ice.
In the south, polar bears are annual visitors to southern Labrador, Newfoundland, Norway, and occasionally to the Gulf of St. Lawrence during years with heavy pack ice.
The most southerly dwelling polar bears live year-round in James Bay, Canada.
The majority of polar bears are found near land masses around the edge of the polar basin.
Scientists believe there are 15 relatively discrete polar bear subpopulations. A subpopulation is a group of polar bears with a home range independent of but overlapping that of other polar bears. For example, two subpopulations live in the James/Hudson Bay area, one in western Hudson Bay, and the other in northwestern Ontario and James Bay. More..