American Oceans

Biggest Polar Bear Ever Recorded

The polar bear is the largest land predator on Earth and is considered an apex predator in the Arctic food chain.

a close up of a roaring polar bear

These magnificent creatures can weigh up to 1,000 kg and stand up to 10 feet tall.

However, there have been reports of even bigger polar bears in the past, leaving scientists to wonder if there are still larger polar bears yet to be discovered.

The largest polar bear ever recorded was a male shot in northwestern Alaska in 1960.

This specimen weighed 2,209 pounds and stood 11 feet 1 inch tall on its hind legs!

Despite this record, there are still debates among experts about whether there are even larger polar bears out there in the Arctic wilderness.

Key Takeaways

  • The polar bear is the largest land predator on Earth and can weigh up to 1,000 kg and stand up to 10 feet tall.
  • The largest polar bear ever recorded was a male shot in northwestern Alaska in 1960, weighing 2,209 pounds and standing 11 feet 1 inch tall on its hind legs.
  • There are debates among experts about whether there are even larger polar bears out there in the Arctic wilderness.

Record of the Largest Polar Bear

a generative image of a polar bear

The largest polar bear ever recorded was a male bear weighing 2,209 pounds. This behemoth of a bear was spotted in Kotzebue Sound, Alaska in 1960.

It stood an impressive 11 feet 1 inch tall when on its hind legs. The length of the bear was measured at 3.39 meters (11 feet 1 inch) with the shoulder height estimating at 122 to 160 cm (4 feet 0 inches to 5 feet 3 inches) [1].

This massive polar bear was the size of 11 grown men, with an average man weighing 200 pounds [2].

The polar bear is the largest bear and the largest hypercarnivorous land mammal in the world [3].

On average, an adult male polar bear weighs around 350-700 kg (772-1,543 lb), while an adult female is about half that size [3].

The record of the largest polar bear ever recorded is a testament to the impressive size and strength of these magnificent animals.

While polar bears are known for their incredible size, they are also known for their impressive swimming abilities.

The longest distance swam by a polar bear in one go is a staggering 685 km (426 mi), logged over a period of nine days straight in 2008 [4].

References

  1. Polar Bear Facts – Largest Polar Bear on Record
  2. AZ Animals – Discover the Largest Polar Bear Ever Recorded
  3. Our Planet – Largest Polar Bear Ever Recorded
  4. Guinness World Records – Bigger, Faster, Stronger: Why Polar Bears are the Most Prolific Record-Breaking Bears

Physical Characteristics

a polar bear eating a recent kill

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is the largest bear species on Earth. Adult males can weigh anywhere between 300 and 800 kg (700-1,800 lb) and measure up to 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) long from head to tail.

On the other hand, adult females are much smaller, weighing around 150 to 250 kg (330-550 lb).

The shoulder height of an adult polar bear ranges from 122 to 160 cm (4 feet 0 inches to 5 feet 3 inches).

Skin and Fur

Polar bears have black skin covered with a dense layer of guard hair, which provides insulation and protection from the cold.

The fur is actually transparent, and it appears white because it reflects visible light. The hairs are hollow and help to trap the heat close to the skin, keeping the bear warm in the harsh Arctic climate.

Adaptations

Polar bears have several adaptations that help them survive in their environment. They have an incredible sense of smell, which they use to locate prey from a distance.

They also have webbed paws that make them excellent swimmers. In fact, polar bears are strong swimmers and can swim for long distances without getting tired.

Their wide paws help them distribute their weight evenly over thin ice, allowing them to walk on it without breaking through.

Their thick layer of blubber also helps them stay warm in the cold water.

Habitat and Distribution

a polar bear sitting on a rock

Polar bears are found in the Arctic Circle, which is a region around the North Pole that includes parts of Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia, and the United States in parts of Alaska.

They are also found in Svalbard, a group of islands located between Norway and the North Pole.

The Arctic environment is the only place on Earth where polar bears can be found in the wild.

Home Range

Polar bears have a large home range, which is the area where they live and hunt for food. The home range of a polar bear can be as large as 200,000 square miles (518,000 square kilometers).

This is because polar bears need a vast area of sea ice to hunt for seals, their primary food source.

In the summer months, when sea ice melts, polar bears move to land and fast until the sea ice returns in the fall.

Polar bears are adapted to living in the harsh Arctic environment, where temperatures can drop to -50°C (-58°F) and the sun does not set for several months during the summer.

They have thick fur, which helps them stay warm, and large paws, which allow them to walk on thin ice without breaking through.

Polar bears are also excellent swimmers and can swim for long distances in search of food.

In North America, polar bears are found in Alaska and northern Canada. In Greenland, they are found in the northern part of the country.

Polar bears are considered a threatened species due to habitat loss caused by climate change and human activities such as hunting and oil and gas exploration.

It is important to protect their habitat and ensure their survival for future generations.

Diet and Hunting

Female Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) with two cubs hunting dragging a dead ringed seal

Polar bears are apex predators, and they mainly feed on seals. However, they are opportunistic hunters and will eat other prey if they are available, such as fish and walruses.

Polar bears are also known to scavenge on carcasses of whales and other marine mammals.

Primary Prey

Seals are the primary prey of polar bears, and they are an essential part of their diet. Polar bears hunt seals by waiting near their breathing holes in the ice.

When a seal comes up for air, the polar bear will grab it with its powerful jaws and drag it onto the ice.

Polar bears may also hunt seals by swimming underwater and attacking them from below.

Hunting Techniques

Polar bears use various hunting techniques to catch their prey. They are known to use their sense of smell to locate seals under the ice.

Polar bears can detect the scent of a seal from over a mile away. They also use their excellent eyesight to spot seals on the ice or in the water.

Once a polar bear has located its prey, it will stalk it silently until it is close enough to attack.

Polar bears are powerful swimmers and can swim long distances to reach their prey.

They are also excellent climbers and can use their sharp claws to climb onto the ice to catch a seal.

Behavior and Lifestyle

a polar bear standing on a small iceberg

Polar bears are generally solitary animals and do not form packs or groups. However, they do have a complex social structure, especially during the mating season.

Male polar bears can be dangerous and aggressive towards other males, especially when competing for a mate.

Adult males, also known as boars, may engage in fights that can be fatal.

On the other hand, female polar bears, also known as sows, are more tolerant of each other and may even share a den during the winter.

They also exhibit maternal instincts and are very protective of their cubs. Cubs usually stay with their mothers for about two years before venturing out on their own.

Hibernation

Polar bears do not technically hibernate, but they do go into a state of walking hibernation during the winter months.

During this time, they reduce their metabolic rate and may not eat or drink for several months. They rely on their thick layer of blubber to keep them warm and conserve energy.

Pregnant sows will dig a den in the snow and stay there throughout the winter until their cubs are born.

They will not leave the den until the cubs are strong enough to make the journey outside.

This period of inactivity allows the polar bears to conserve energy and survive the harsh Arctic winter.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the largest recorded size of a polar bear?

The largest recorded size of a polar bear was a male weighing 2,209 pounds and measuring 11 feet 1 inch in length. This polar bear was found in Kotzebue Sound, Alaska in 1960. [1]

How does the size of a polar bear compare to other bear species?

Polar bears are the largest bear species. They are larger than brown bears and black bears. Male polar bears can weigh up to 1,500 pounds, while female polar bears can weigh up to 550 pounds. [2]

What is the average weight of a polar bear?

The average weight of a male polar bear is around 900 pounds, while the average weight of a female polar bear is around 500 pounds. [1]

What is the average height of a polar bear?

The average height of a polar bear when standing on its hind legs is around 8 to 10 feet. [1]

What is the top speed of a polar bear?

The top speed of a polar bear is around 25 miles per hour, but they can only maintain this speed for short distances. [2]

What is the largest polar bear ever recorded and where was it found?

The largest polar bear ever recorded was a male weighing 2,209 pounds and measuring 11 feet 1 inch in length. This polar bear was found in Kotzebue Sound, Alaska in 1960. [1]

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