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.
Polar bear tracker
With the help of polar bear researchers, WWF is following polar bears' travels in the Arctic.Read more
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
352 - 680 kg
2 - 3 m
22,000 - 31,000 polar bears worldwide
Polar bears and people
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Meet the team
This predominantly Arctic species is associated with ice floes. Its movement patterns are therefore influenced by the melting and freezing of the ice. The bowhead has suffered from severe over-exploitation that has seen its range shrink considerably since the 17th century.
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.