Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Polar Bears -- Giants of the Arctic

Eighteenth Century European Scientists called Polar Bears "Ursus Maritimus" meaning Sea Bears and they truly are as they spend a lot of their life on Sea Ice.

Not much is known about how long Polar Bears live as few carcasses have been found. Polar Bears are capable of swimming 100 Miles at a stretch.

Most Female Polar Bears, return to land to Den and give birth and there lies a clue to their past.

The first animals that taxonomists recognize as Bears go back about 20 Million Years to the Miocene Era. The size of a small dog, those early bears gradually grew much larger and began living in caves, some were even bigger than present day bears.

They spread to all the continents except Australia and Antarctica. Some 200,000 years ago when glaciers covered much of Eurasia and the Arctic Ocean was frozen, hungry brown bears wandering frigid northern shores discovered something new to eat -- namely "Seals".

By 125,000 Years ago, a new species had appeared in Eurasia split off from its Brown Bear Ancestors.

Gradually, its Head and Snout had grown longer, and its teeth had become smaller and more jagged -- a better design for tearing seals apart.

Its coat turned white, blending with the surroundings. Those White Bears began to walk great distances to hunt seals until possibly within a few thousand years, they ranged across the Arctic.

Today, between 25,000 and 40,000 Polar Bears roam this frozen world. They aren't considered endangered thanks to Global Foresight.

Norway, outlawed hunting of its Polar Bears and Canada began research that led to a quota system and the United States passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act which allows only Alaska Natives to take Polar Bears.

Canada and Norway have created National Reserves specifically to protect Polar Bear Habitat and Denning Areas.

In the Former Soviet Union, Polar Bear Hunting was banned in 1955.

But today, in the wake of Russia's Free - Market- Economy - some Russian Researchers fear increased poaching of Polar Bears that range over the Chukchi Sea between Alaska and Siberia.

They also worry about the long term effects of recent oil spills into Siberian Rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean.

Finally, This has to be said that awareness is the Key with regard to Polar Bear Habitat and specially with regard to Polar Bear Survival.

Credits and References :

Polar Bears
Stalkers of the High Arctic
By John L. Eliot
Pages 55-60
National Geographic Magazine
Volume 193, N0-1
January 1998


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