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National Marine Conservation Areas of Canada

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Canada’s National Marine Conservation Areas System Plan

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus)

Polar bear
© Parks Canada / Dorothea Kappler, 1995

Though often considered a land animal, the polar bear is truly a marine mammal, as its Latin name implies. They spend most of their life on the sea ice stalking ringed seals, their main prey, and only come on land to give birth or when the melting ice leaves them no choice. They are perfectly adapted to swimming in the freezing waters and use this ability to advantage to sneak up on the seals. Normally found only in the Arctic, polar bears have travelled as far south as Newfoundland, floating there on ice pans!

Last Updated: 2013-05-10 To the top
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