Polar bears do not live in Antarctica. They never had. Polar bears live in the Arctic which occurs at the northernmost part of the planet. Antarctica on the other hand lies at the south pole of the Earth. Arctic and Antarctica shares many geographical features. Both regions are the coolest places on earth. But they are opposite to each other. Still many people wonder do polar bears live in Antarctica.
The temperature can drop down to minus 50 degree Celsius in Arctic as well as in Antarctic. One is the frozen desert while other becomes the frozen ocean in winter. More than a century ago scientists possibly tried to introduce polar bears in Antarctica but they couldn’t. As of now the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) discourages any such attempt because it would eventually disturb the ecosystem of arctic and Antarctica. Now let us study why do polar bears not live in Antarctica.
Do Polar Bears Live in Antarctica? – Are there Polar Bears In Antarctica?
They would never live in Antarctica precisely because the evolution of polar bears likely occurred in the northwestern Europe much less Scandinavia. During the late Weichselian and early Holocene period about 10,000 – 15,000 years ago polar bears had begun occupying the lands of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. If they had colonized the southernmost regions they would have occurred in Antarctica beyond doubt.
So, here is the question: Why can’t polar bears live in Antarctica? Polar bears’ absence in Antarctica is not due to their inability to survive the extreme weather. They can and they do go by many days when the temperature falls below 30 degree Celsius. Besides, the polar bear’s dense fur always keeps the animal warm no matter how cold the weather turns out to be. The marine life and the sea ice characteristics in both Arctic and Antarctic are almost similar.
- Should polar bears live in Antarctica they would have thrived in the same way as they do in the arctic. They would have loved to consume Antarctic fur seals which are fairly abundant. Also, penguins are the permanent residents of the Antarctic; they are the easiest of all marine prey.
- Polar bears are not choosy hunters—they are opportunistic predators. It is just that their evolution occurs at far north—opposite end of the pole. One cannot assume that polar bears would migrate all the way to the south just to have the same kind of habitat and prey. Polar bears are bears not arctic terns that they would fly thousands of miles in a year.
- Furthermore, during the Holocene periods when polar bears evolved the land between north and the south were not fully covered with sea ice. Therefore the question of connecting southern with northern hemispheres does not arise since polar bears prefer to walk on sea ice.
- Arctic is home to millions of seals which is the primary diet of polar bears. About 80% of polar bear’s diet consists of ringed and bearded seals. Bears kill seals because they need blubber in order to pass months in starvation. Antarctic also provides the similar nutritious food sources however in the early 19th and 20th centuries humans have hunted Antarctic fur seals so heavily that seals are becoming redundant in their own habitat.
- The quantity of food could have a negative impact on the lifespan of polar bears should they live in Antarctica. Else, both Arctic and Antarctic are appropriate habitats for polar bears.