Happy International Polar Bear Day

Guest post by Andrew E. Derocher, Ph.D.

February 27 is International Polar Bear Day but it’s a safe bet that polar bears throughout the Arctic aren’t paying much attention.

Snoozing Polar Bear. Photo by Wayne Lynch.

Nonetheless, any bear living at the northern reaches of land near Ellesmere Island or northern Greenland might be celebrating: celebrating the return of the sun. Given that the polar bears in this area have been living without seeing the sun for over four months, it is likely a welcome sight. For some polar bears, the return of daylight won’t mean much—being buried under snow in a den with tiny cubs doesn’t lend much time to poke about outside. Further, the frigid temperatures keep mothers and their newborn cubs locked up as the cubs are still too small to leave the shelter of their dens. Den departure day will come in April or May—just in time for ringed seals to have their pups and the annual polar bear feast to begin. Ringed seals will start pupping in their own snow shelters above the sea ice but below a thick layer of snow.

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