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How well do you know the Polar Bear?

Posted by Greenpeace UK - 20th May 2016

I’m Ian and I’m an Arctic campaigner here at Greenpeace. Over the years that I’ve been campaigning to save the Arctic, I’ve learnt some really interesting and surprising things about polar bears. Here are 11 of them…

11: Polar bears aren’t really white.

It’s true. Polar bears actually have black skin (take a look at their noses) that’s covered in transparent, pigment-free hair. Each individual polar bear hair scatters and reflects visible light which makes polar bears appear white, even though they’re not – sneaky.

10: Polar bears have a stronger bite than the Great White Shark

At 1,235 pounds per square inch, polar bears have a greater bite force than the Great White Shark, the Bengal Tiger and the African Lion. To put that number even more in perspective, the average strength of a human bite is a slightly embarrassing 162 pounds per square inch. 

9: Polar bears are the only mammal to actively hunt humans.

Seals are polar bears’ favourite food. But polar bears will hunt humans if they stray into their territory. And with incredible speed, enormous strength, a tremendous sense of smell and a deadly bite…do I really need to finish this sentence?

8: Polar bears can communicate using just their feet.

With each step a polar bear takes, its paws leave behind a scented chemical trail. This allows polar bears to communicate over vast territories. Our feet are so boring! 

7: Polar bears can run as fast as horses

Reaching top speeds of 40km per hour, a polar bear could give a galloping horse a serious run for its money.

6: Polar bears are invisible to night vision goggles

A heavy layer of blubber and that iconic fur pelt keep polar bears nice and warm in icy Arctic conditions. But they also keep them hidden from night vision goggles. Polar bears insulate heat so well that they’re almost completely invisible in infrared vision.

5: Polar bears have three eyelids.

That’s right – three! Their third eyelid reduces the amount of UV radiation that enters their eyes, thereby protecting them from snow blindness. Which is pretty handy considering where they live.

4: Polar bears don’t need to drink water

Obvious fact alert: most of the fresh water in the Arctic is frozen. For you and I that might cause some problems. But not for polar bears – they’ve evolved so that they no longer need to drink water. They can get all the H2O they need from the chemical reaction that breaks down fat.

3: Polar bears don’t get wet

Polar bears have two layers of fur. The outer guard hairs form a layer that protects the inner fur from getting wet when polar bears are in the ocean. After a swim, they just need to give a quick shake and they’re ready to continue with their day.

2: Polar bears have blue tongues

The photo says it all really 🙂

1. One record-breaking polar bear once swam for nine straight days

The longest recorded non-stop swim a polar bear has ever made is an incredible 687 km (426 miles) over nine straight days (that’s 232 non-stop hours, if you’re wondering).

These bears really are amazing.

But tragically, they’re in serious danger. The sea ice they rely on to hunt, rest, and breed is melting at a terrifying speed. Experts are warning that polar bears could be extinct in the Arctic within 100 years.

To stop this tragedy we’re building a massive movement that can stand up for the Arctic and these magnificent creatures. But we need your help getting the word out!

Share these 11 amazing facts on Facebook and sign our petition to protect the Arctic:

It’s not just the polar bear that leads a fascinating life. Follow the links below for some equally extraordinary facts about…





Article Tagged as: Arctic