Learn about the Arctic's iconic creature, the polar bear in the arctic, in the context of arctic animals.
Polar bears, known scientifically as Ursus maritimus, are remarkable creatures perfectly adapted to survive in the harsh Arctic conditions. They are the largest carnivorous land mammals, with adult males typically weighing between 900 and 1600 pounds and measuring up to 10 feet in length. Females are usually smaller, weighing below 700 pounds.
Polar bear’s most recognizable feature is their thick, pure-white fur, enabling them to blend seamlessly with the Arctic snow and ice – a perfect adaptation for hunting and survival. Beneath their fur, their skin is black. This dark pigmentation helps to absorb and retain heat from the sun, providing a much-needed source of warmth in the frigid Arctic environment.
The polar bear’s anatomy is full of further adaptations to their icy habitat. They possess a stoutly-built torso and a long neck, aiding them in swimming and reaching through the ice to catch their preferred prey – seals. Their large, broad feet function as paddles in the water, and the rough pads armed with small papillae on the soles offer a better grip on the slippery ice.
- Their claws, sharply curved and strong, are not just tools for hunting but also for digging into the snow while denning.
- Polar bears also have a thick layer of blubber – up to 4.5 inches thick – beneath their skin, serving as insulation from the cold, a buoyancy aid while swimming, and a reserve of nutrition.
Polar bear’s in the Arctic have very keen senses, particularly a strong sense of smell to locate seals up to a mile away or buried under feet of snow. Their eyes, although not as sharp as those of seals, are adapted to perceive both above and under the water.
In conclusion, the physical attributes of the polar bear in the Arctic reveal a perfectly-adapted animal capable of not just surviving, but thriving in the frozen wilderness, showcasing nature’s amazing ability to adapt and evolve.
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3. Diet and Hunting Practices
The diet of the polar bear is predominantly carnivorous, relying heavily on the fat of marine mammals for survival in the harsh reality of the Arctic. Among the marine mammals, their primary prey is the ringed seal, but they also hunt bearded seals and other small mammals when available. Polar bears are superb swimmers and skilled hunters, and they’ve perfected several hunting techniques over generations to harness the opportunities afforded by the unforgiving Arctic environment.
One of the most distinctive hunting techniques used by the polar bear is still-hunting. In this method, the bear waits patiently near a seal’s breathing hole in the ice, sometimes for hours, till the prey surfaces to breathe. At that moment, the bear strikes with incredible speed and precision.
Another frequently used hunting method is stalking, where a polar bear in the Arctic spots a seal resting on the ice and slowly sneaks up on it. However, this method’s success rate is considerably lower due to the seal’s acute hearing and the arctic’s vast open spaces.
Lastly, the polar bears are known to swim underneath the ice to catch unsuspecting seals near the ice edges or ice floes. The advantage of the aquatic environment and the element of surprise makes this a highly successful, albeit physically demanding, hunting technique.
Despite their proficient hunting skills, the harsh reality of the Arctic means that not every hunt is successful. Research shows that only about 2% of still-hunting attempts are successful. Regardless, the high fat content in their marine mammal prey ensures that they receive adequate nourishment to sustain their energy storage even with such low hunting success rates.
The diet and hunting skills of polar bears not only exemplify their resilience and adaptability in the face of the harshest environmental conditions on Earth, they also underpin a much broader ecological dynamic in the Arctic. With every seal they consume, polar bears indirectly control seal population density, thus playing a crucial role in maintaining the balance of the marine Arctic ecosystem.
To further enlighten yourselves on the survival struggles of these fascinating arctic beasts, immerse yourself in the detailed piece, “Future of Polar Bears: Act Now to Ensure Survival!“. Now, prepare to explore the world of another magnificent creature in our next article.
4. Reproduction and Life Cycle
The diverse life cycle of the polar bear in the Arctic is a fascinating aspect of this magnificent animal’s existence. Reproduction typically begins in April and May, during mating season, although the eggs will not implant until the following fall. Polar bears demonstrate delayed implantation, a fascinating tactic used by a variety of mammalian species, allowing the timing of birth to coincide with optimal environmental conditions.
Female polar bears need a sufficient amount of body fat to support cub development and nursing, often doubling their weight during the summer months. If a female does not achieve this significant weight gain, pregnancy may not occur. Once successfully mated and nutritionally prepared, the female bear will dig a maternity den in the snow, commonly on south-facing slopes, where she will stay until her cubs are able enough to leave.
Polar bear cubs are typically born between November and February. The average litter size is two, with the cubs being blind, toothless, and weighing just over one pound at birth. The denning period is a crucial part of the polar bear life cycle, as it provides protection to the newly born cubs against the harsh Arctic conditions.
- February-March: Cubs start to leave the den, beginning to familiarize themselves with the outside world while gaining necessary strength and skills under their mother’s careful surveillance. During this time, the mother bear also starts to hunt again to replenish her depleted energy reserves.
- April-May: The family leaves the denning area entirely, venturing out onto the sea ice where seals, the mainstay of a polar bear’s diet, are found in abundance.
- October-November: The mother starts to wean the cubs, encouraging them to hunt and make their kills. By the end of the year, the cubs are almost completely independent.
The cubs will remain with their mother for about two and a half years, learning critical hunting and survival skills before they are finally weaned and set out on their own. Subsequently, the cycle of polar bear in the Arctic continues as the cubs mature and eventually start families of their own.
This overview of the reproduction and life cycle reveals a complex range of behaviors linked to the arctic conditions, highlighting the polar bear’s extraordinary adaptations to its challenging environment.
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5. Social Behavior and Communication
The polar bear, or Ursus maritimus, is renowned for its survival skills in the harsh Arctic environment, and this extends to its social behavior and communication methods. Though usually seen as solitary animals, polar bears do exhibit complex social structures and forms of communication that enhance their adaptability to the Arctic wilderness. Understanding their social dynamics helps us appreciate their place in the Arctic ecosystem.
Polar bears primarily lead solitary lives, with individuals covering extensive territories. However, unlike other bear species, polar bears do not display overt territorial behavior. They are known to share their space and even food with other polar bears. The interactions tend to vary depending on factors such as age, sex, and season.
Interactions among polar bears often involve subtle cues and body language. A typical greeting, especially between males, involves nose-to-nose touch. Mothers communicate with cubs using vocal and physical means, like touching and nudging, guiding them through the challenges of Arctic life from the very start.
Polar bears exhibit various vocalizations that convey different messages. They purr when content, hiss and growl when angry, and emit a chuffing sound when stressed. Cubs often communicate with their mother and siblings using a variety of sounds, including squalling cries and soft hums.
- The primary form of long-distance communication for a polar bear in the Arctic is through scent marking. They use their highly developed sense of smell to locate mates, define territories, or identify familiar or foreign bears.
- Male polar bears use chemosensory clues in the female’s footprints to track them for mating. Females signal their reproductive status through these scent markings, making them vital for the species’ breeding practices.
- Polar bears also use physical displays for communication, particularly during the mating season. For instance, males engage in fierce physical contests that involve paw swatting and wrestling, exhibiting their strength to compete for potential mates.
Even though they can become aggressive during breeding or while defending cubs, polar bears are generally tolerant of each other, showcasing both the rugged individualism needed for survival and the social intelligence to communicate within their species, even in the vast and remote expanse of the Arctic. Every sniff, growl, or swat is a testament to the relentless resilience of the polar bear in the Arctic.
After delving into the social intricacies of adult polar bears, you may find it interesting to expand your knowledge to the younger generation of these amazing creatures. Learn more about the survival techniques of polar bear cubs and how you can make a difference by visiting Polar Bear Cubs Survival: Learn How You Can Help Now!.
6. Polar Bears and Arctic Biodiversity
Polar bears, king of the Arctic tundra, play a pivotal role in the biodiversity of the Arctic. Branded as a key species, polar bears’ existence has a profound influence on the balance of arctic animal populations and overall ecosystem dynamics. They co-exist and interact with a range of arctic mammals and marine creatures, forming an integral part of this unique, icy habitat.
The diet of a polar bear in the Arctic predominantly consists of seals, which illustrates their central role in regulating seal populations. This feeding habit, in turn, impacts the fish populations that seals feed on. Consequently, an intricate web of life cascades down from the existence of the polar bears, impacting numerous layers of the arctic ecosystem.
On the other hand, polar bears also serve as indicators for the health of the arctic ecosystem. For instance, changes in their population numbers or general health can often be correlated with drastic shifts in the environment and can be an early warning signal for bigger ecological concerns.
- Polar bears are apex predators and thus help control the seal population, maintaining a healthy and sustainable ecosystem balance.
- Since seals consume substantial quantities of fish, the predatory role of polar bears also indirectly impacts lower tiers of the food chain.
- Healthy, thriving polar bear populations signal a stable and robust Arctic ecosystem, while dwindling numbers may indicate underlying environmental issues.
In summary, the polar bear in the Arctic is a significant driving force that shapes the ecosystem structure and defines biodiversity in these frozen landscapes. Therefore, efforts aimed at the conservation of these majestic creatures can inadvertently benefit the entire spectra of Arctic wildlife.
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7. Threats Faced by Polar Bears
The beauty of the polar bear in the Arctic is threatened by a myriad of challenges that pose a tangible threat to their survival and are largely attributable to human-induced consequences. The increasing rate at which the polar ice caps are melting due to global warming is perhaps the most substantial threat faced by these magnificent creatures. Unlike other bear species, polar bears are heavily dependent on sea ice for a significant portion of their life activities, including hunting and breeding. Evidently, the loss of this habitat has a profound and dire impact on the polar bear population.
Polar bears’ main prey, notably seals, are becoming increasingly scarce as melting ice influences the seals’ breeding grounds and distribution. This diminishes the bears’ access to food, leading to malnutrition and lower reproduction rates. Furthermore, the lack of sea ice forces these bears to swim longer distances, taxing their energy reserves and increasing risks of drowning, especially for young cubs.
Furthermore, industrialization in the Arctic region introduces a new array of threats. Increased oil and gas development can lead to habitat destruction, pollution, and heightened risk of oil spills which can be fatal to the wildlife. Similarly, commercial shipping and tourism that exploit the increasingly ice-free Arctic waters can disrupt polar bear habitats and behaviors.
Moreover, although heavily regulated, hunting can also pose a threat to polar bear populations. Overhunting can rapidly reduce bear numbers, upset the balance of the Arctic ecosystem and hinder successful reproduction. It’s worth noting that polar bears have a relatively slow reproduction rate; thus, hunting can have long-term effects.
Lastly, pollutants like heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants being carried into the Arctic environment through ocean currents and air streams have the potential to accumulate in polar bears, leading to health complications.
In a nutshell, the polar bear in the Arctic faces a struggle for survival due to a changing environment, depletion of food resources, industrial threats, hunting, and contamination. Their existence is hanging in the balance and mirrors the fate of the Arctic’s delicate biodiversity.
Keeping in mind our collective responsibility to preserve such magnificent species, let us expand our understanding about these wonderful creatures. To further explore the marvelous world of the Arctic, take an engaging journey into the life of a Newborn Polar Bear that Defies Odds in a Changing Arctic.
8. Impact of Human Activities
As untouched and remote as the Arctic may seem, human activities have a significant effect on this chronically cold region, particularly on the polar bear in the Arctic. The manifestations of these effects include climate change, industrial pollution, and overhunting of the beasts themselves, all of which contribute to disrupting the balance of the Arctic ecosystem.
Climate Change: Undoubtedly, the largest impact of human activity on the Arctic is climate change. The rapid melting of sea ice – the primary habitat for polar bears – due to rising global temperatures is leading to a consistent loss of polar bear habitat. As sea ice thaws earlier and freezes later each year, polar bears have less time and opportunity to hunt their preferred prey, such as seals.
Industrial Pollution: The Arctic, though seemingly isolated, is not immune to pollution. Over the years, industrial contaminants have made their way into the Arctic food chain starting from small organisms to the top predators like polar bears. These pollutants can have devastating effects on polar bears’ reproductive and immune systems, thus affecting their overall population.
- Overhunting and Illegal Trading: In the past, excessive hunting for polar bear fur, meat, and other body parts brought them to the brink of extinction. Though regulated hunting is currently allowed in some areas, illegal killing and trade remain significant threats.
- Oil and Gas Development: The Arctic is rich in oil and gas reserves, and extraction of these resources often leads to habitat destruction and oil spills that can be fatal to polar bears and other wildlife.
In conclusion, human activities pose a substantial threat to the polar bear in the Arctic. Conservation efforts must focus not only on protecting these magnificent creatures but also on reducing human impacts on their habitats for their survival and the overall health of the Arctic ecosystem.
You might find it interesting to explore more about the fascinating topic of Polar Bear Reproduction: Learn & Save Arctic Life Now! where you can gain more insight into the extraordinary life cycle of these magnificent Arctic dwellers.
9. Conservation Efforts
Conservation efforts are key to protecting and preserving the polar bear in the Arctic. These majestic creatures are facing challenges primarily due to climate change, industrial activities, and increasing human interference. However, numerous organizations worldwide recognize the critical situation and have dedicated resources and strategies to mitigate the potential repercussions.
First and foremost, organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and Polar Bears International are tirelessly working to conserve polar bear populations and the ice habitats they entirely depend on. These organizations are pushing forward strategies that entail both, grassroots advocacy and high-level political lobbying. They also aid in creating and enforcing legislation aimed at reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, protecting polar bear habitats from oil and gas exploitation and limiting commercial hunting.
Key measures include:
- Tracking polar bear movements using satellite collars to accumulate data pertaining to their migratory patterns and habitat use. Such information is crucial for their conservation plans.
- Research and implementation of strategies to mitigate potential conflicts between polar bears and humans, particularly in Arctic communities.
- Development and enforcement of policies geared towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Working with Arctic governments to prohibit unregulated trade of polar bear parts, and ban high-speed chases of polar bears for sport hunting.
National and regional governments, especially within the Arctic circle, also play a pivotal role in the conservation of the polar bear in the Arctic. This includes the Arctic nations of Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia, and the United States, who have agreed via the 1973 International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, to protect shared polar bear populations and their habitats.
In conclusion, while the threats faced by polar bears are complex and daunting, they are not insurmountable. With collective action, informed policy, and continued dedication to both regional and global conservation goals, we can secure a future for both polar bears and the fragile ecosystem on which they, and countless other Arctic species, so desperately rely.
If you’re intrigued by the fascinating life of the polar bear, you may also find it interesting to dive deeper into their daily behaviors with our detailed examination titled “How Often Do Polar Bears Poop? Unearth Hidden Mysteries”.
11. Arctic Wildlife and the Impact of Climate Change
The natural home of the polar bear is in the Arctic, a region brimming with numerous species that have adapted to its harsh and often extreme conditions. The rich diversity of Arctic wildlife is captivating, with a wide array of marine mammals and terrestrial animals playing vital roles in maintaining this unique ecosystem. An important part of this biodiversity is the seals that inhabit the region, serving as a key prey species for the polar bear in the Arctic.
- Ringed Seals: Named for the patterned markings on their fur, ringed seals are a primary food source for polar bears. They are particularly prized for their high-fat content, which is essential in helping polar bears maintain their energy levels.
- Bearded Seals: Larger than ringed seals, bearded seals are another integral part of the Arctic food chain. Although they are more challenging to catch due to their size, they provide substantial sustenance for polar bears.
Despite the stable relation shared between these predators and their prey, anthropogenic climate change poses increasingly severe threats to this delicate balance. The melting Arctic sea ice, a direct result of global warming, drastically impacts the habitats and survival of animals in these regions. For the polar bear in the Arctic, the loss of sea ice eliminates their primary hunting grounds and restricts their access to key prey species.
Both ringed seals and bearded seals rely on sea ice platforms to breed and raise their young. The disappearance of sea ice due to rising global temperatures exerts immense pressure on these species, leading to decreased reproduction rates and increased vulnerability to predation. Consequently, this dynamic substantially affects the availability of prey for polar bears, threatening their survival.
Overall, the impact of climate change on the Arctic ecosystem and its wildlife is profound and far-reaching. To ensure the survival of these species and the balance of this fragile ecosystem, immediate action is needed to mitigate the effects of global warming.
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12. Polar Bear Behavior and Adaptation
The intricate behavior and adaptation of the polar bear in the Arctic present an excellent display of nature’s evolutionary prowess. These majestic creatures show a striking versatility in their behavioral patterns, transforming their survival strategies in response to the harsh environment they call home.
Polar bears are predominantly solitary animals, yet they show exceptional receptiveness to social interactions. Notably, when food is plentiful, it’s common to see them share their catch with other bears in exchange for social interaction – a behavior utterly unique among bear species. This demonstrates not only their social adaptability but also their potential capacity for reciprocity and fairness.
Another crucial element of polar bears’ behavior lies in their hunting habits. Facilitated by keen senses of smell and sight, polar bears exhibit immense patience in their hunting style. They are well-known for their still-hunting technique, where a bear will wait silently at a seal’s breathing hole in the ice, sometimes for hours or days on end until the seal surfaces. As soon as it does, the polar bear seizes it in a swift, aggressive motion. This behavior signifies their capacity to plan, an important survival strategy that ensures their survival amidst the unforgiving Arctic terrain.
- Migration is another crucial behavioral adaptation. Polar bears have been known to migrate seasonally in response to the changing arctic conditions and the availability of prey, mainly ringed and bearded seals. During this time, they can embark on lengthy swims, covering distances equivalent to hundreds of kilometers, showcasing their extraordinary endurance.
- Polar bears also show significant physiological adaptability. For instance, when food is scarce during summers, these bears can slip into a state of ‘walking hibernation’ where their metabolic rate and body temperature drop to conserve energy – a vital adaptation in the face of increasingly long ice-free periods in the Arctic.
- Furthermore, their bodies have evolved to accommodate a diet high in fat but poor in vitamins. Their liver and kidneys efficiently process the large amounts of urea produced by a protein-heavy diet, allowing them to extract maximum nutrition with minimal waste.
The life of a polar bear is a testament to their ability to adapt and survive in one the Earth’s most unforgiving regions. It suggests a high degree of behavioral plasticity and physiological adaptability that allows them to make the most out of their harsh surroundings. However, the ongoing climate change related sea ice loss is increasingly threatening the polar bears’ resilience and survival, making the conservation efforts for polar bear in the Arctic ever more vital.
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13. Threats to Polar Bears and the Arctic Ecosystem
The status of the polar bear in the Arctic is increasingly precarious due to a variety of threats. Top amongst these threats is climate change, which has caused issues such as sea ice loss and a shift in the Arctic ecosystem. This is particularly concerning as polar bears are heavily dependent on sea ice for their survival, using it as a platform to rest, breed, and most importantly, hunt their primary prey, seals. As global temperatures continue to rise, the loss of sea ice is becoming increasingly pronounced.
Additionally, polar bears face threats due to pollution and human activities. Persistent organic pollutants are transported by air and sea currents to the Arctic. While seemingly isolated from major industrial areas, the Arctic’s wildlife, including polar bears, are struggling with high levels of pollutants in their systems. These contaminates can affect the bears’ immune and endocrine systems, ultimately reducing their survival rate.
Further threats to polar bears include over-hunting and disturbance from tourism and industrial activities. Though polar bear hunting is now heavily regulated in most regions, illegal hunting can still occur.
The Arctic ecosystem is an intricate web, and the loss of one species can have ripple effects on the rest of the ecosystem. Other Arctic animals, such as the narwhal, the Pacific walrus, and the North Atlantic right whale, amongst others, are also experiencing similar threats. Therefore, the plight of the polar bear in the Arctic is not isolated but represents a broader issue in this fragile ecosystem.
- Climate Change: Rapidly rising temperatures are leading to loss of Arctic sea ice, the primary habitat of polar bears.
- Pollution: Persistent organic pollutants are affecting the health and survival of polar bears and other Arctic species.
- Human Activities: Activities such as over-hunting, tourism, and industrialization are posing serious threats to polar bears and other Arctic wildlife.
In a nutshell, addressing these threats is not merely about saving polar bears, but conserving the biodiversity and overall health of the Arctic ecosystem.
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14. The Importance of Polar Bear Conservation and Arctic Exploration
The importance of polar bear conservation and Arctic exploration cannot be overstated. Polar bears, often regarded as the iconic symbol of the Arctic wilderness, have stood as tenacious survivors in one of the earth’s most unforgiving habitats. But despite their resilience, they have not escaped the bruising impacts of human activities and climate change. The Arctic ecosystem, a fragile nexus of ice, sea and land habitats that are intertwined with the lives of countless species, relies heavily on these apex predators. Understanding and preserving the role of the polar bear in the Arctic is, therefore, tied up with the survival and health of this whole ecosystem.
Conservation efforts for the polar bear and other Arctic species are extensive and range from the international to the local level. For instance, Canada’s Arctic is home to approximately two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population. Over the years, Canadian organizations such as Polar Bears International and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have implemented initiatives such as satellite tracking of polar bears to monitor their population, health, and migrations patterns and ensure their survival.Arctic exploration plays a vital role in these initiatives. By venturing into the frozen Arctic expanse, researchers are able to investigate the complex dynamics of this crucial ecosystem, track climate change impacts, and document the state of wildlife populations. These conservation measures are aided by stringent hunting regulations, initiatives to reduce conflict with local communities, and measures to minimize disruptive human activities.
- Arctic exploration also has critical implications in the climate change discourse. By studying changes in the Arctic sea ice, scientists gain invaluable insights into global warming trends. The loss of sea ice habitats, a direct result of rising global temperatures, poses a severe threat to the survival of the polar bear in the Arctic as it limits their ability to hunt for seals – their primary food source. This, in turn, impacts the whole Arctic food chain.
- Lastly, let’s not forget the island territory of Svalbard, located halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. Here, the local government and international organizations like the WWF have teamed up to monitor polar bears and implement robust conservation efforts. From minimizing human-polar bear conflicts to setting up climate change monitoring stations, the aim is to protect the polar bear in the Arctic and preserve Arctic biodiversity.
In conclusion, conservation efforts and Arctic exploration are tremendously important. They provide us with a deeper comprehension of the complex interplay between climate change, polar bear survival, and the broader health of the Arctic ecosystem. With effective conservation measures, the hope is to inspire a future where the Arctic continues to be a vibrant, icy wilderness buzzing with life.
10. A Closer Look at the Arctic Ecosystem
The Arctic is one of the Earth’s most unique ecosystems, characterized by its extreme weather conditions, unique species, and uncanny adaptability. Central to this ecosystem is one animal that perfectly exemplifies these characteristics – the polar bear. The polar bear in the Arctic is more than just a resident; it’s an integral part of the circumpolar world.
Understanding the Arctic ecosystem involves appreciating its complexity. Unlike other environments, the Arctic region is constantly fluctuating. It alternates between times of constant darkness and continual daylight, dictating the behavior of its inhabitants. The most notable feature of the area, however, is the cold. These below-freezing temperatures have a significant influence on the organisms that call it home, polar bears being the most iconic.
The Arctic provides fresh insights into the fascinating and interconnected nature of ecosystems. Those who inhabit these icy landscapes, including the polar bear in the Arctic, are particularly adept at surviving in the harsh conditions that are an intrinsic part of life here.
Connected to both the terrestrial and marine ecosystems, polar bears have a role to play in both. They are a primary predator in the Arctic Ocean, feeding significantly on the ringed and bearded seal populations. This hunting behavior links terrestrial and marine systems, as these bears often hunt from ice platforms and bring their subsistence onto the land. It demonstrates the intricate web of relationships found in the Arctic ecosystem.
However, as sturdy as it seems, the Arctic ecosystem is fragile. Its health is reflected in the wellbeing of its top predator – the polar bear. Changes in the ice conditions, abundance of prey, or increased human activities could cause serious repercussions. That’s why the condition of the polar bear population can be considered a barometer for the overall health of this icy wilderness.
In conclusion, the Arctic ecosystem, with its icy landscapes and unique biodiversity, serves as more than just a backdrop for the world’s largest land predator. It is a complex and dynamic entity, and the polar bear plays a pivotal role in maintaining its balance. Understanding this interconnected nature can help us protect this fragile system – the home of the majestic polar bear.