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What’s For Dinner?

/ Post by Katie Billing of Polar Bears International

Polar bears are the world’s largest land predators. Male bears can weigh from 351 kg up to 544 kg. The largest polar bear recorded weighed 1001 kg. How do polar bears maintain this large weight? By eating, of course! Right now, the polar bears are out on the sea ice doing what they were born to do – hunt! Polar bears have noses that can smell twenty times better than a human nose. This powerful sniffer helps them find their favorite meal underneath 7 ft. thick ice. This tasty meal is known as a ringed seal. Ringed seals live in ice lairs that they carve out using their sharp claws. Those sharp claws are no match for a polar bear’s 12-inch paw with 2-inch claws. Polar bears will wait around a seal-breathing hole for the opportune moment. Once a seal sticks its head out of the ice to take a breath of fresh air, WHAM! That polar bear grabs the seal out of the water, clamping his jaws around its head and breaking its neck. The bear then dives in with the seal and eats the blubber. Bon appetit!

The sheer power of polar bears is unbelievable. I personally have never witnessed a polar bear eat a ringed seal with my own two eyes, but I have seen it in documentaries. When I was in Churchill with the explore.org team we saw another food item on their plate. This food item was kelp! Polar bears that wait for the sea ice are stuck eating vegetation and other alternative foods that they find inland. Some bears eat leftover whale and walrus carcasses. As the ice melts, ringed seals are affected because they spend their whole lives living in and around ice. Without their primary food source, polar bears are stuck eating what they can find. It would be really unfortunate to deprive these powerful animals from showing off their hunting skills.

We can help! To provide a seal meal to our bear friends, we can cut down on our carnivorous ways. As humans eat meat, we are supporting the meat industry, which puts carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. How? Well, grains are shipped for cattle to eat, the cattle are shipped to slaughterhouses, and the meat is shipped to warehouses, which are shipped to your local grocery stores, which you then drive to pick up. All the shipping and driving puts those green house gases into the atmosphere. Many fruits and vegetables are grown locally. If we eat meatless meals we can cut down on green house gases and support local communities. If you want some tips on how to make a meatless meal, or want to learn more ways to help out polar bears, check out Polar Bears International’s My Planet My Part.