Visiting the spectacular state of Alaska affords opportunities to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in the Arctic in the company of polar bears.
Your Guide to Viewing Polar Bears in the Wild
Imagine the thrill of seeing the giants of the Arctic roaming free in the wild. Many of us have only ever laid eyes on polar bears on TV documentaries. Now, there are incredible opportunities to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. If you’re intrigued by the prospect of enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife adventure, this guide is packed with useful information about polar bears in the Arctic.
Polar bears in the Arctic: facts and figures
Polar bears are truly fascinating and unique animals. One of the largest and most powerful mammals on the planet, there are thought to be around 26,000 wild polar bears in the world. Polar bears live in the icy wilds of the Arctic. Although they are proficient swimmers, they spend most of their time on land, plodding across ice-covered stretches before venturing to the water’s edge and diving in to catch prey. Here are some fast facts about polar bears:
- Polar bears have black skin and translucent fur: they appear white because their insulated coat reflects light.
- Polar bears are the only bears classified as marine mammals. Their Latin name, Ursus Maritimus, translates as ‘sea bear.’
- Adult males usually weigh up to 700 kg. The heaviest polar bear was identified in Alaska in 1960 and weighed almost 1,000 kg.
- Polar bears can reach speeds of up to 6 mph when swimming. They can endure long periods in the icy water hunting prey, usually seals.
- There are between 4,000 and 7,000 polar bears in Alaska
- Polar bears are found in the US, Canada, Russia, Norway (Svalbard) and Greenland
Discovering Alaska: The US’ only polar bear spotting destination
Alaska is the only state in the US where you can see wild polar bears. For wildlife enthusiasts, there’s nowhere like Alaska, a wilderness that affords incredible experiences and adventures. Nestled in the north of the state lies Kaktovik, the gateway to the Arctic and a stunning spot to see polar bears trudging through the ice-covered plains. Denali National Park is another jewel in Alaska’s crown. This expansive natural wonderland, which covers six million acres, is a prime location for viewing grizzly bears.
Seeing polar bears in the wild is an awe-inspiring experience, which is only available to a very limited number of people due to the relatively small population of wild bears and their geographical location within Arctic lands. To spot polar bears in Alaska, you have to travel to the far north to explore barrier islands located off Barter Island, which attract polar bears. The polar bears gather here in anticipation of the freeze-up of the Beaufort Sea, which creates hard sea ice for them to hunt and feed.
The unpredictable, unrelenting conditions in the Arctic combined with the temperament and territorial nature of polar bears means that trips must be planned meticulously. The aim is to view these statuesque, spectacular animals safely while respecting them and the environment.
Polar bears are one of the most interesting and intriguing species on the planet. Humans have long been fascinated by these unique marine mammals due to the size and scale of the polar bear, its fascinating habits and its habitat tucked far away from human populations in the ice-covered waters of the Arctic. Many of us have only ever seen a polar bear on TV or in a zoo but it is possible to view these mammoth creatures in the wild. Visiting the spectacular state of Alaska affords opportunities to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in the Arctic in the company of polar bears.