Svalbard Images - Maps and Pictures
Polar Bears - Norway


Polar bear is a potentially threatened specie which lives in circumpolar north. Polar bears live in Russia, Alaska, Canada, in Greenland and on Svalbard archipelago.

Biologists estimate the population of polar bears at 22,000 to 27,000 bears.

From 1950 until 1972 there were organised polar bear hunts for tourists in Svalbard. 1973, hunting has been forbidden and now polar bear are completely protected. On the Svalbard islands, their population has rebounded from a low of about 1,000 to roughly 3,000.

Wild polar bears, unlike most other bears, are barely habituated to people and are potentially dangerous to humans. Since 1973 five people have been killed by polar bears in Svalbarda

Scientists are worried about the effects of pollution and global warming on polar bears. PCB levels in the polar bears of Norway and western Russia are two-and-a-half to seventeen times higher than those in North American populations. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are damaging their immune systems and affect their endocrine system. Scientists have found that more than one per cent of polar bears in Svalbard are hermaphroditic.

According to a report issued in November 2004 by the Arctic Council and the International Arctic Science Committee, polar bears could become extinct by the end of the century if present warming trends continue in the Arctic.

  Click on the pictures to enlarge - Pictures taken in Svalbard
  Polar Bear   Polar Bears - Mother and cubs   Polar Bear - Cub   Polar Bears - Bear cub imitating mother  
Polar Bears Polar Bears Polar Bears Polar Bears
Polar Bear   Polar Bear Polar Bear Polar Bear


 Polar bears in Svalbard [pdf]
 - Norwegian Polar Institute

 Global Warming - Greenpeace pictures

Copyright Svalbard Images - All rights reserved