| A healthy diet for polar bears
consists of about 2 kg (4.4 lbs) of fat per day. Ringed seals, with
their high body fat content, are the polar bear's primary prey.
They are a particularly energy-rich food source, especially for
hungry mothers and their growing cubs.
Polar bears can devour huge amounts of fat when prey is abundant. The
largest proportion of a polar bear's annual caloric intake occurs
between late April and mid-July. Food availability during this period is
critical for maintaining the proper body weight to survive the ice-free
season. Polar bears fast during the ice-free season, which can last
three or four months.
Seals are often caught at the breathing holes they make in the ice.
Polar bears creep next to a breathing hole and stay completely still,
lying on their stomach and chest with their chin on the ice, waiting
patiently for a seal to appear. They often wait several hours before
they are successful.
Bears also hunt bearded and harp seals. When seals are not available
they will prey upon young walrus and beluga whale, narwhal, fish, and
seabirds and their eggs. Near human settlements, polar bears forage for
food in garbage dumps.
A superb sense of smell guides
polar bears to food sources.
Polar bears typically eat only the fat of their kill.