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Thar She Blows! The White... Bear?

The polar bear is the only bear considered to be a marine mammal. Why?

1. They're great swimmers. They've been clocked as fast as 6 miles / 10 km per hour, and have been known to swim more than 60 miles / 100 km without a rest.

2. Their massive forepaws are partially webbed, and propel them through the water dog-paddle style. The hind feet and legs are used as rudders.

3. A thick layer of blubber, 3-4 inches/7-10 cm thick, not only keeps the bear warm in icy cold water, but adds to its bouyancy as well.

4. The bear's fur protects it like a diving-suit. It easily shakes free of water after a swim, and ice doesn't stick to it.

5. They have excellent underwater vision.

6. The bear's nostrils close when under water. (If you've ever had water up your nose, you'll know what an advantage that is.)

Click pictures for more information and credits.
News Story: "It's Polar Bear Season!"
Library: Arctic, Polar Bears, Arctic Animals, Ice
Links: Arctic, Arctic Animals
Arctic Maps & Weather Reports


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