Polar bears are carnivores and get most of their
nutrition from some type of meat. Polar bears mainly prey on
ringed seals and occasionally on some bearded seals (Ruff and
Wilson, 164). The bulk of the polar bear's meal is the skin
and fat of the preyed upon animal. They need this extra fat
for insulation and to keep warm during the cold winter months.
The remaining meat does not go to waste; it becomes an important
food source for other arctic animals. Aside from the ringed
seal and bearded seal, polar bears may also prey upon harp seals,
hooded seals, walruses, white whales, narwhals, and sea ducks (Ruff
and Wilson, 164). There are three methods the polar bear uses
to obtain its food. The polar bear may sit and wait, stalk its
prey or dig its prey out of a snow dens. Polar bears are very
efficient swimmers and can travel up to 30 miles per hour across the
frozen ice (Forsyth, 190). Their speed aids in hunting and
allows them to catch their prey more efficiently. When utilizing the first
approach, the polar bear sits motionless near the open water and
waits for a seal to emerge. Polar bears may stalk seals that
have pulled themselves onto land or may move into the water and
those that are under the water.
The image above was taken from
The photo was taken after the polar bear had made an attack in the
As the polar bear swims under the pack ice
and makes its way to the open water, it slowly creeps up on the seal.
Within a matter of moments the polar bear is able to make his or her
move and retrieve its prey. In the spring, during seal
breeding season, polar bears act as scavengers on the land-fast pack
ice. They use their keen sense of smell to locate ringed seal
dens and prey upon the seal pups (Forsyth, 190). Most of the
polar bears activity and feeding is done solitarily; however, there
has been some evidence of group feeding. More than 40 polar
bears were seen scavenging for food near the Churchill garbage dump,
on the southern shore of the Hudson Bay (Nowak, 1093).
Luckily, the polar bear is at the top of the food chain and does not
have any natural predators; U. Maritimus is most threatened
by humans and some of the other bears.