International Polar Bear Day celebrates Arctic apex predators

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International Polar Bear celebrates these Arctic apex predators. As polar bear mums and their newborn cubs snuggle up in Arctic snow dens across Canada, 27 February is a day for raising awareness and understanding of the challenges polar bears face.


Polar bear mother and cub, Churchill Manitoba. Image Canada Keep Exploring

Polar bear mother and cub, Churchill Manitoba. Image Canada Keep Exploring

As polar bears bunker down in snow dens across the Arctic awaiting the spring weather when they roam the frozen tundra, 27th February marks International Polar Bear Day. This special day celebrating these magnificent apex predators is aimed at raising awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by polar bears in a changing world, where their habitat is threatened as the planet warms.

If you are lucky enough to see polar bears in their natural habitat, it’s an experience that will remain with you forever. Polar bear watching is an incredible experience combining sheer beauty with thrilling proximity. With more than 60% of the world’s polar bears found in Canada, many Australians are longing for the time when they can fulfill their lifelong dream of safely encountering polar bears in the wild.


Polar Bear seen from a walking tour at Churchill Wild’s Seal River Lodge. Image Fiona Harper

Polar Bear seen from a walking tour at Churchill Wild’s Seal River Lodge. Image Fiona Harper

See polar bears in the wild via Polar Bear Camera

If you’re curious about what polar bears get up to when they think no-one is watching them, watch live Polar Bear cam highlights from Wapusk National Park, Manitoba. We take no responsibility if you can’t drag yourself away for many hours and watch this endlessly – it’s not time wasted we promise!

Nunavit, Canada

It’s easy to view polar bears throughout Nunavut, as all but one of the territory’s communities are located by the ocean. Autumn is the best time to see them, as they gather on the shorelines waiting for sea ice to form.

Polar bears, or ‘Nanuq’ in Inuktitut, tend to hang out on the ice floe edge, hunting for seals and other prey. If you go, be sure to connect with a polar bear expert in a community like Pond Inlet, Resolute Bay, Arviat or Hall Beach. Experienced guides who live and breathe this country know exactly how close you can get to stay safe, and where you’re likely to find these incredible animals.


Polar bear on the snow at Nunavit, Canada. Image Canada Keep Exploring

Polar bear on the snow at Nunavit, Canada. Image Canada Keep Exploring

Insider’s tip: These adorable creatures are extremely dangerous and powerful hunters. In other words, your camera will need a zoom lens!


Polar Bear seen from a walking tour at Churchill Wild’s Seal River Lodge. Image Fiona Harper

Polar Bear seen from a walking tour at Churchill Wild’s Seal River Lodge. Image Fiona Harper

Churchill Manitoba, Canada

In Churchill, Manitoba, travel by land is probably the most common way to see the lords of the Arctic. Climb aboard a tundra buggy, an all-terrain vehicle that stands over 13ft above the ground (a safe height from which to view polar bears) and you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world. Even the average adult polar bear standing at full stretch won’t quite come up to your eyeballs. For tundra buggy tours check out Frontiers NorthLazy Bear ExpeditionsGreat White Bear Tours


Polar Bear seen from a walking tour at Churchill Wild’s Seal River Lodge. Image Fiona Harper

Polar Bear seen from a walking tour at Churchill Wild’s Seal River Lodge. Image Fiona Harper

Alternatively, a smaller scale, open-air, low-impact tundra vehicle, called a ‘rhino’ works well to navigate the boggy lowlands and tidal flats and gets you closer to your goal of seeing bears.

But really, the best way to see polar bears is at ground level, on their own turf. Churchill is the only place in the world that offers a walking tour with polar bears. Yes, that’s right, you can hike with polar bears! Churchill Wild offers one of the most extraordinary opportunities to literally walk in the footsteps of these Arctic apex predators. Guided walks combine seaplane flights from Churchill with almost a week-long stay in a lodge, right in the heart of polar bear country. This is the best opportunity to get up close and personal with these fantastic beasts in complete safety. Don’t be surprised to see polar bears sniffing around the safety fence (that’s to keep guests safe, not the bears, which are roaming wild) when the BBQ is fired up. They seem to be attracted to the tantalising aroma of grilled bacon, for some reason.


Polar Bear on the ridge outside the safety compound at Churchill Wild’s Seal River Lodge. Image Fiona Harper

Polar Bear on the ridge outside the safety compound at Churchill Wild’s Seal River Lodge. Image Fiona Harper

Five fun facts about polar bears

  1. Polar bears are the largest land carnivore: Males can weigh more than 700kg.

  2. Polar bears aren’t actually white: Polar bears have black skin and hollow, colourless hair. Their hollow fur reflects light and traps the sun’s heat to help keep them warm.

  3. Their movements might look slow and cumbersome but don’t be fooled: Polar bears can reach speeds of up to 40 km per hour on land and around 10 km per hour in water.

  4. Shrinking sea ice is their biggest threat: The bears rely on sea-ice as a platform to hunt prey like seals. Rising temperatures is causing sea ice to melt earlier.

  5. Two-thirds of polar bear litters are twins! A female polar bear has around five litters in a lifetime.

    More polar bear facts

More information: Canada keep exploring

About the author: Fiona Harper is a Queensland-based travel writer – follow Fiona at Travel Boating Lifestyle

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