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Emily Ciurdar's Polar Bear
Project Name : Emily Ciurdar's Polar Bear
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Polar Bear
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They may be popularly known for always trying to conserve their Coca-Cola, but Polar Bears express many other magnificent, and almost unbelievable traits and habits. However, this amazing animal's life is threatened. With global warming at its best, things aren't looking to turn out to great for these poor bears. On the bright side, all of the animals fabulous and mysterious behaviors have been recorded and we are able to know so much about them.

The name polar bear, also known as Ursus maritimus to scientists around the world, means maritime bear. Also meaning it is a bear that uses the ocean as a necessity, and lives near it. Like all animals, the polar bear has a specific classification. The kingdom it belongs to is obviously Animalia, because it is an animal. It belongs to the phylum Chordata, stating that it has a vertebrae, or a spinal chord. Because a polar bear breathes through lungs, and has all the other qualities of a mammal, it is in the class of Mammalia.  Its order is Carnivora, meaning that it eats other animals. It is in the family of Ursidae, and its genus species is Ursus Maritimus (Lunn 2004, 1).

Polar bears habitat is given away by there name. They prefer to live in cold, polar places, and in the meaning of their name, it explains that living near water is necessary for their existence. They live mainly in the Arctic Circle, in the range around the Arctic Ocean. Their favorite habitat is to be on the thin ice that covers the sea. Also, they can be found in areas where the sea water meets the ice covered land. Sometimes polar bears are referred to as marine animals because of the amount of time they spend in the ocean. Although polar bears always prefer to be in these locations, they need to follow the path of their prey so that they will always have food. However, because they hunt seals, which live mainly in water, they are still able to stay in the areas they like best.

The tundra is the coldest of all biomes. Not only is it the coldest biome, is has low vegetation, and populations lean to one direction of either high or low. Despite all these conditions, the tundra is where the polar bear chooses to call its home. (Lunn 2004, 1)

Polar bears are a very young species. Studies have shown that the polar bear evolved about 150 thousand years ago.  They evolved from the brown bear, and studies show no doubt of that. They know this because of fossils of the jawbone of the two species. Scientists have not been able to excavate very many old fossils of the polar bear, which gives them a stronger reason to believe that they are a young species that has evolved some what recently (Moskawitz 2010, 1). Polar bears also have very low genetic variation. This is due to geographical isolation. Polar bears in different areas are not able to reach each other (Calvert 2008, 1).
 
Some people would consider the polar to be the most beautiful type of bear. The coat of fur on a polar bear can vary from shades of a light brown, some forms of yellow and can sometimes be a pure white. Their fur is very thick and dense. So thick and dense, it is almost impossible to tell they have skin that is black. Polar bears have four legs, in which the hind legs are longer than the front. This helps them to seem bigger.  They have five-toed paws, that are able to act like snow shoes and distribute the polar bears weight.  A Polar bears head is small compared to its massive body. The body weight of a polar bear can vary from about 700 to 1300 pounds, and can grow to about eight or nine feet tall. The male is known to grow and be about three times the weight of the female bears. The largest record weight of a polar bear came in at a little over 2 thousand pounds! Compared to other bears, their body is longer, and they have long slender necks. Polar bears have forty-two teeth, and have a small tail that is about seven to twelve centimeters long (Busch 2002, 1).

Polar bears eat seals mostly. They use a technique called seal stalking. Seals are their ultimate prey and polar bears will willingly wait around for hours, to maybe even days, if it means getting a good meal. Polar bears travel with the ice. This sometimes take them on one hundred mile journeys, but where the ice is, the food is also.  The polar bear will steadily weight near the holes in the ice where a seal will pop out when it is done in the water. once the seal arrives out of the water, the bear makes its attack leaping on the seal. The seal is either dead or paralyzed before it is able to make its way back into the water or escape.

Polar bears that are stuck on land for any reason have very little meals where there is no ice. They have to wait until fall arrives and brings the ice with it. A polar bear is capable of eating one hundred pounds of blubber in one single meal.

Polar bears begin mating in April and May. Males will fight each other for mating rights, and when two polar bears get together, the couple will stay together and mate for a whole week. The female bear will remain pregnant until the months of August or September. During this time she eats, and eats a lot. She will eat almost five hundred pounds, thus doubling her weight (Steward 2012, 1, 2, 4). 

Although beautiful, these bears can get very defensive at times. To defend itself a polar will snarl and chase down any other animal that may be a threat. Another defense mechanism polar bears use, much like other bears display, is standing on their hind legs to make themselves look bigger. They will also fight other polar bears by pushing and wrestling. They do this for mating rights, and females may do this also, because some males when fighting for the right to mate will eat polar bear cubs to catch the attention of a female. Therefore other females with cubs must be very careful to watch their little bear cubs, and they need to hide them during this time.

To help these massive animals seem more sneaky and lighter, their five-toed, and fuzzy paws help to distribute their weight. This makes it easier to walk on ice for them, which is necessary if these animals want to be able to hunt and eat. The fur coat on these bears is greasy and oily. This makes it practically water resistant, so when swimming the animal does not get weighed down, or stay  wet once it is out of the water. The fur, along with layers of fat, also help to keep the polar bear warm in the drastically cold temperatures in the Arctic (Kristol 2010, 1).

All bears have an instinct that occurs every winter. It should be considered more of a talent, or magic trick. The polar bears hibernate. They have the ability to completely shut down their metabolism for six months. Studies have said that there are two reasons for this being possible for such a huge animal, in such harsh weather conditions. One of those factors would be that the bear has a lot of extra skin, fat, and fur. This keeps them warm and well insulated. The other factor is that when the internal temperature of the polar drops past a certain point, they begin to shiver. The shivering is able to keep their bodies warm. Not only do they not eat for six months, they do not urinate or secrete waste at all. The only thing they need for hibernation is oxygen. With that, their bodies do the rest and they manage to survive. One thing their bodies do while they are in this deep sleep is produce calcium for the bears bones. Since the polar bears do not produce waste during this time, the body takes the calcium from the waste and puts it into the bears bones. They also maintain their muscles. Scientists have yet to figure out how the polar bears perform this amazing trick. For humans, if we do not use our muscles regularly they shrink. The polar bear, along with the other bears who hibernate, can not use any of their muscles for six straight months and still maintain their size and strength (Palca 2012, 1, 2).

Sadly, the polar bears are endangered. Their environment is being highly effected by the risks of global warming that continue to grow. The polar ice continues to melt, due to higher levels of carbon dioxide giving off heat in the atmosphere. The ice is needed in order for the polar bears to survive. They are thought to be the mammal who relies on it most. Not only do they use the ice to live on, and to be close to their prey, the ice is where they perform mating and sometimes reproduce on the ice as well. The ice is literally their home.Without it they have no chance. This leaves less room for the polar bears to live, and less ice means less areas to look for food. With the temperature constantly increasing, and the ice continuing to melt, is is not looking to good in the future for the life of the polar bears. The only way they could survive is if the ice stops melting, and many scientists have predicted that all the ice will be gone in a matter of generations if global warming continues on the path it is today (Hensel 1980, 1).

A recent study was done on polar bears to see if they were being effected at all by common pollutants around their area. There were fifty-five males and forty-four females that were being examined. The researches were looking for any negative effect on the polar bears. The only thing they could find that the animals had experienced change in was their reproductive organs. They noticed that they shrunk. The male testes had gone down in size, and the female ovaries length decreased. Scientists think it is from the pollutants from the chemical xenendocrine being released in the cities closest to the polar bears. They realized this would be a problem to the polar bears. As if they do not already have struggles staying alive with all of the global warming, they now have to worry about less sperm and egg being produced to create more offspring to build the population (Soone 2009, 1).

The Alaskan people look to the polar bear as a very wise and majestic creature. They consider it to be almost like a man. When they would used to hunt the polar bears, they would eat the meat and use its fur coat as warmth either in coats or blankets. The only thing never touched was the liver. Even though they had killed the animal they considered to be almost like themselves, they treated the meat and materials made from it with great respect. the polar bears were not looked to as a god, but instead just a creature that was very wise and respectable. If the hunter did not respect them, it was said none of the bears would come close to that hunter (Hamilton 1996, 1).

Overall, the polar bear is an amazing animal. From its amazing physical features, fighting and hunting strategies, and the magic it does through hibernation, it is an animal that should be helped through global warming. If all comes to worst, however, the polar bear will not be an animal that is forgotten.
Bibliography:
1. Busch 2002 "Physical Characteristics Info Book"  Web. http://www.seaworld.org/infobooks/polarbears/pbphysical.html

2. Calvert 2008 "Analysis of Populations" Web.http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-294X.1995.tb00227.x/abstract

3. Hamilton 1996 "Polar Bear Legends"  Web. http://lovepolarbears.com/legend.php

4. Hensel 2008 "Polar Bear Survival" Web. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2656.2009.01603.x/full

5. Kristol 2010 "Behavioral Adaptions of Bears" Web. http://www.veeriku.tartu.ee/~ppensa/animal_adaptation.html
 
6. Lunn 2004 "Polar Bears in a Warming Climate"  Web. http://icb.oxfordjournals.org/content/44/2/163.short

7. Moskawitz 2010 "Polar Bear Evolution" Web. http://www.livescience.com/10956-polar-bears-evolved-150-000-years.html

8. Palca 2012 "Hibernating Bears" Web. http://www.npr.org/2011/02/18/133849231/hibernating-bears-a-metabolic-marvel

9. Soone 2009 "Effect of Pollutants" Web. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es060836n

10. Steward 2012 "Polar Bears Hunting and Eating Habits" Web. http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/polar-bears/bear-essentials-polar-style/habits-and-behavior/hunting-and-eating
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