Ocean’s Five: Polar Bear Countries
Polar bears are residents of the Arctic – the top of the planet. Though the human population that far north is small, human-polar bear interactions have happened for centuries and the great white bear has been the source of many myths and legends. And while it seems like a hostile landscape to many of us, polar bears are so well adapted to the chilly climate that they actually have more trouble with overheating than with getting too cold!
If you want have your own polar bear experience, and see the polar bear in its natural environment, where would you go? Here is a list of the top five countries in which to see polar bears:
Norway. Svalbard, an archipelago off the northern coast of Norway is where some of the main sequences for our film To The Arctic were shot. Polar bear researchers and photographers do much of their work in Svalbard because of the reliable convergence of bears here each year.
A scene from the new IMAX® 3D documentary To the Arctic, releasing exclusively in IMAX theatres beginning April 20th. Copyright 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Canada. The edges of Hudson Bay are home to one of the fastest growing populations of polar bears anywhere. But it’s not because the population is growing. There are actually less and less bears each year, but the lack of sea ice is pushing the remaining polar bears into a smaller area near town.
Photo: Barbara MacGillivray.
The US. Polar bears in the Chukchi Seas off northern Alaska may travel up to 1000km as the edge of the sea ice moves with the seasons.
Russia. The IUCN cites poaching in Russia as part of the rationale for listing polar bears as vulnerable, a step below endangered (lack of hunting limits in Canada and Greenland were also listed). So many polar bears have wandered into towns in the Chukotka region due to disappearing sea ice, that the government re-opened bear hunting after a ban since 1956.
Greenland. There are five different polar bear populations within Greenland, and the Baffin Bay population sometimes crosses over to Canada.
P.S. It just so happens that those are the only five countries where wild polar bears exist!