Can polar bears survive in Antarctica?

Many have cited the difference between the South Pole and the North Pole to demonstrate that polar bears are unsuited to the environmental conditions of Antarctica. However this logic is not correct. Whether an area is suitable for polar bears to survive depends largely on whether the area can meet the needs of polar bears, regardless of whether it is exactly the same as the Arctic.

What do polar bears need?

The first is the floating layer of ice in the sea . Because polar bears have to hunt seals on icebergs, without the floating ice, they won't be able to catch seals, because even if they swim, they certainly can't swim as well as seals.

Picture 1 of Can polar bears survive in Antarctica? Without the icebergs, polar bears would not be able to hunt seals.

Next is the glacial lake. If the sea water was completely frozen, the seals would suffocate to death because they couldn't find a place to come up to breathe. Polar bears prefer marine environments that are partly frozen and partly glacial because they can then "hug the tree and wait for rabbits" at the edge of the frozen lake. In addition, seals must be in contact with the water to breathe, and their breeding must also be done on ice.

Do polar bears need the ground? The answer is not necessary. Polar bears are not an animal that lives only in water, so they still need to come ashore, but shore for them is not land, instead it is sea ice.

In some areas female polar bears will nest on land when they are pregnant, but mainly, in other areas, such as the Beaufort Sea area, female polar bears will burrow and nest on rocks ice, this shows that polar bears can completely grow and develop normally without the land surface.

At the same time, in the seas near Antarctica there is also an environment with a lot of icebergs, which can fully meet the basic needs of polar bears, so polar bears can live in part of the Antarctica .

Picture 2 of Can polar bears survive in Antarctica?
Polar bears can live in parts of Antarctica.

When living in Antarctica, what problems will polar bears encounter?

Although polar bears can survive in Antarctica, Antarctica has two completely different characteristics from the North Pole , which will still have a certain influence on the life of polar bears.

The first is the location of land and sea. The North Pole is the continent surrounding the ocean, and the South Pole is the ocean surrounding the continent. The polar bear's habitat will be entirely sea ice. Their distribution in the Arctic can be located in the vicinity of the North Pole and can reach up to 88 degrees North latitude. Upon reaching the South Pole, this species will not be able to survive in the Antarctic interior (in fact, the Antarctic Inland does not have vertebrates either), so they can only live in the coastal areas of the South Pole . Pole.

However, this does not affect polar bears much. Polar bears are now mostly active near the Arctic Circle in the Arctic, and they become rarer as they head north. Because the seas at high latitudes are quite scarce, the sea is frozen all year round, so their hunting is also difficult.

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The temperature in Antarctica is lower than in the North Pole.

Second is the temperature. Temperatures in Antarctica are lower than in the North Pole , and there are no warm ocean currents around the South Pole, which makes it colder. Therefore, polar bears can live at lower latitudes in Antarctica , where there is sea ice there are polar bears. The lowest latitude for polar bears to live in the Arctic is about 52 degrees north latitude. (Hudson Bay).

If they were in Antarctica, they would be able to live at lower latitudes. However, one problem this brings is that the Arctic waters are surrounded by continents and polar bears can land in the sea. ice in the summer; while there are no continents around the waters of Antarctica (only a few small islands), polar bears may have only moved to higher latitudes due to the melting of sea ice. This will be an important factor limiting the growth of polar bear populations in Antarctica.

However, at the present time, although polar bears are gradually losing their habitat , and they can survive in Antarctica, there is still no one or project to carry out polar bear migration to protect them.

Picture 4 of Can polar bears survive in Antarctica?
If the polar bear lived in Antarctica, it would destroy the ecological balance.

What is the real problem?

The real problem of polar bears entering Antarctica is not the fact that the polar bears themselves cannot survive there, but the destruction of the ecological balance. Marine mammals in Arctic waters are used to the existence of polar bears, and their behavior has evolved to focus on avoiding being hunted by polar bears. For example, ringed seals, the main food of polar bears, will find a cave to hide in when giving birth, and they will often erase their surroundings by slamming on the ice to deter predators. hunt.

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Weddell Seal.

However, the Weddell seal of the Antarctic is the opposite, its natural enemies are in the sea, and it is used to life with no natural enemies on the ice.

It nests and spawns right on the shore without any cover on the ice surface, it also doesn't care about animals moving on the ice surface, and humans can even go straight to the nest. of them.

It is conceivable that if polar bears entered Antarctica, the effects of Weddell seal's lack of vigilance would be dire. Another creature is a penguin. Penguins come ashore to lay eggs and have a permanent nesting area, which is also the area where polar bears can survive. Therefore, the ecological destruction of polar bears while living in Antarctica is obvious.

Historically, the large auk , known as the "Arctic Penguin" , has suffered from polar bears. Especially after the 15th century, when the Earth entered a minor ice age, polar bears expanded their distribution southward. Although the main cause of the great auk's extinction was indiscriminate killing by humans, some experts believe that polar bears also played a role in creating this extinction.

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Antarctic penguins.

Therefore, although polar bears can survive in Antarctica, they will destroy the ecological balance, and the continuation of the species in the long run will be pointless .