© Deborah Albert

Polar bear

Majestic creature of the far north, the polar bear is the world's largest terrestrial carnivore. Its Latin name, Ursus maritimus, means 'sea bear': an apt name for this amazing species which spends much of its life in, around, or on the water - predominantly on the sea ice.

Why is the polar bear so important?

Large carnivores - those that are at the apex or top of the food chain - are particularly sensitive indicators of the health of an ecosystem. Polar bears help us gain an understanding of what is happening throughout the Arctic.

All recent indicators show that sea ice in the Arctic is melting at an alarming rate, a problem that needs to be addressed immediately if polar bears, and other species unique to the region, are to survive.

Polar bear facts

  • scientific name
    Ursus maritimus
  • weight
    352 - 680 kg
  • length
    2 - 3 m
  • population
    22,000 - 31,000 polar bears worldwide
  • status

Polar bears and people

Follow in the footsteps of polar bears

With the help of polar bear researchers, WWF is following polar bears' travels in the Arctic.

Read more

What WWF is doing for polar bears

WWF is working around the Arctic to secure a future for polar bears.

Read more

How we work


The Circle 04.18
The Circle 04.18
1 October 2018
Polar Bear CAP Scorecard
Polar Bear CAP Scorecard
30 January 2018
Health effects in Arctic wildlife linked to chemical exposures
Health effects in Arctic wildlife linked to chemical exposures
1 June 2016
Factsheet: Keeping people and polar bears safe
Factsheet: Keeping people and polar bears safe
26 February 2016
Polar bears and climate change
Polar bears and climate change
1 December 2015
Impact of climate change on species
Impact of climate change on species
12 November 2015

Meet the team


Senior Advisor, Arctic and marine


Project Coordinator


Advisor, Nature Conservation – WWF Netherlands


Senior Program Officer, Arctic Wildlife


Senior specialist, Arctic species & ecosystems

WWF Arctic Coordinating Team

Senior Specialist, Arctic species


Unit Head, Forests & Wildlife – WWF-Netherlands


Coordinator, Arctic Biodiversity Conservation Projects


Managing Director, Species Conservation Program

Share this

Recommended reading


Belugas are extremely sociable mammals that live, hunt and migrate together in pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of whales.


The narwhal is famous for the long ivory tusk which spirals counter-clockwise several feet forward from its upper lip. The tusk is actually the whale's upper left canine tooth. Male narwhals commonly have a single tusk, but they sometimes have two tusks, or none at all. Around 15% of females have a tusk.