Updated: Apr 13
I had lots of fun making this video and learning about whales, walruses and seals.
I must say however, that I was disappointed to learn that Santa only delivered Christmas presents. I thought that surely he wouldn’t mind picking up a few tasty treats from the North Pole for me, popping them on his sleigh and getting his reindeer to drop by my house with them. I might have harped on about it a bit because I ended up getting told off and after doing some research on the internet, it became obvious that I hadn’t thought this through properly at all.
From what I know of Santa he would be far too busy to be providing a food ordering and delivery service for stray polar bears. No, that was cleariy one of my sillier ideas but I found out a lot about polar bears eating habits whilst doing my research and some of it is quite interesting ...
Polar bears are the largest and most powerful carnivore on land. When I first heard this the bell inside my woolly hat jingled so loudly that I even scared myself! I should however be totally fearless because the polar bear has no natural predators and is not afraid of humans. (Obviously they’ve never been caught out doing something naughty and got shouted at like I have on several occasions.) Anyway, back to their feeding habits …
Polar bears feed mainly on the ringed seals. Surely they don’t mean those round rubber things they put inside the lids on jars to keep them airtight? What would a fearlessly powerful carnivore want with a chewy, smelly old hunk of rubber? I realised I was on the wrong track when I learned about the different ways the polar bear stalks and kills these seals. I searched for a picture of a ringed seal and imagined that my mouth would start watering and that I’d suddenly feel extremely hungry but instead I began to feel very sad.
Firstly, it looked far too cute and cuddly to eat. But then baby polar bears are cute and cuddly too (so I’ve been told) and possibly the fish and crustaceans that the seals like to eat might be equally as cute. So the cuteness angle obviously couldn’t be taken into consideration when a hungry polar bear with cubs to feed came across a seal while hunting in the Arctic. I mean it would be highly unlikely to say: “You run along home. Not to worry, I’ll find something a bit less cute to feed my family”.
Secondly, and more importantly, I found out that the ringed seal, as well as the bearded seal (which polar bears also eat), are listed as an endangered species. This means they face a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
At first I thought that maybe this was because they were being eaten by greedy polar bears but no, it’s because the earth’s climate is changing and everywhere (the North Pole included) is getting warmer. Because of these warmer temperatures the Arctic sea ice has melted and got a lot smaller over the last few decades and less ice means less seals. A cold shiver went down my spine and the bell inside my woolly hat started to jingle as I wondered grimly what this might mean for polar bears.
It turns out that polar bears are listed as a vulnerable species. This means they are considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. I expect their outlook is a little better than their main source of prey because polar bears are very capable hunters on land and sea so when seals are off the menu, polar bears kill beluga whales and young walruses. In fact polar bears will eat just about any animal they can get, including reindeer, small rodents, seabirds, waterfowl, fish, eggs, vegetation (including kelp), berries, and human garbage.
Shivers, no wonder Santa’s reindeer wouldn’t want to be delivering food from the North Pole to a polar bear. They are food for a polar bear! I’m surprised I was allowed in the sleigh at all, but I was very little then and wrapped up in Christmas paper so they probably didn’t realise I was potentially dangerous.
Thankfully I don’t have to worry about being vulnerable to extinction because I’m not “in the wild” which is good because I don’t think I’d be a particularly good hunter but I do like the cold and have to sneak into the freezer sometimes to cool down.
You can find out more about polars bears by visiting https://polarbearsinternational.org/
Love Maisey xxx