Species Spotlight: Polar Bear

 Portrait of a polar bear (Ursus maritimus). Svalbard, Norway.

Questions and Answers

What protects polar bears from the glare of snow and ice?
In addition to an upper and lower eyelid, polar bears have a third eyelid that helps protect their eyes from the glare of snow and ice.

What causes polar bear fur to appear white?
Although polar bear fur appears white, it is actually clear. The hairs are hollow and contain no pigment. Reflection of the sun’s light causes them to appear white.

How does climate change affect polar bears?
Polar bears rely heavily on sea ice for traveling, hunting, resting, mating and, in some areas, maternal dens. But they are losing their sea ice habitat as a result of a warming climate–the primary threat to polar bears throughout the Arctic.


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