Activity 3B: Explore

Polar Bear Mom Snuggling with Twin Cubs

Photo: Tim Auer / Polar Bears International

Polar Bear Subpopulations

Polar Bears and Sea Ice Regions

Polar bears need a platform of sea ice to reach their prey: ringed and bearded seals. But not all sea ice is equal: some sea ice lies over more productive hunting areas—and some ice regions will melt sooner than others in a warming Arctic. Scientists have currently identified 19 subpopulations of polar bears living in four different ice regions in the Arctic. Why does it help to divide the Arctic into ice regions? For those polar bear subpopulations that are little-studied, scientists can make informed estimates on how they're faring based on the health and condition of other populations in the same region.

Step One

Watch this short video of Dr. Steven Amstrup explaining the Four Ice Ecoregions (shown on the map below). You will also learn more about these ecoregions in Activity 3C.

This video is available for download for AAC use and one of few resources with French, French (Canadian), and German subtitles

Polar bear ecoregions map

Step Two

The Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) provides a status table and status assessments that are updated regularly regarding polar bear population size in each of the subpopulations. Explore the two resources found below.

Guiding Question: Do you know what the conservation listing is for polar bears in each of the polar bear nations? Find out more in the Status Report that can be downloaded HERE.

Polar Bear Specialist Group interactive table with most recent subpopulation statuses can be found HERE.

Step Three

After reviewing the information from the PBSG – what new facts have you learned? Share your thoughts in the Discord community.

Polar bear mom and her twin cubs waiting for the sea ice to freeze

Photo: BJ Kirschhoffer / Polar Bears International


Continue on to Activity 3C – Reflect.