The Sea Bear

The scientific name for Polar Bear is Ursus maritimus, which means Sea Bear. They live most of their life on the frozen ocean and are good swimmers. If needed they can swim long distances. The longest recorded swim was a female who swam continuous for nine days, covering 687 km. Records like this show that Polar Bears really feel at home in the water.

Swimming Polar Bear in Liefdefjord.

However, during this record swim she lost 22% of her body weight and her cub didn’t survive. Even if they feel much at home in the water, they do try to avoid it. Jumping from one floe to another costs less energy as swimming and climbing back out on the ice.  And these long distances, even if they are possible, are not ideal for bears. There is a limit to what they can do. With the sea ice melting they have to swim longer distances to get to the right areas for either feeding or breeding. Some of them manage, others don’t. More and more drowned Polar Bears are found of bears who didn’t make it.

This bear was just swimming for short distances from one small island to another and seemed quite OK with it. In almost perfect conditions it gave me the possibility to photograph and film a swimming bear.


Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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