Polar Bears, Long-Distance Swimming, and the Changing Arctic
Featured on USGS, a member of the U.S. Global Change Research Program
Data collected from long distance swims by polar bears suggest that they do not stop to rest during their journey.
Polar bears spend much of their lives in and around water, and they are well adapted for swimming. But recent findings of USGS scientists demonstrate that they are even better swimmers than many imagined: In years of extreme sea-ice retreat in the southern Beaufort Sea region of Alaska, polar bears have been documented taking very long swims, in excess of 30 miles.
Data collected from long distance swims by Polar bears suggest that they do not stop to rest during their journey. In addition to being an impressive feat, this provides some tantalizing clues into the polar bears future in an Arctic with less sea ice. That these bears can swim such long distances might mean that they are not as vulnerable to being stranded at sea as has been depicted by the media. Scientists wonder, however, if polar bears might be expending essential energy in swimming long distances.