Deepest polar bear (white bear)
Last updated: June 27, 2018 at 19:22 pm
Up to 6 m (20 ft) — While underwater, the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) shuts its nostrils and flattens its ears but its eyes stay open to spot prey. Although it is considered a marine mammal, the polar bear is the largest land carnivore, and because its habitat is largely devoid of vegetation, it is the most carnivorous of all bear species. Hunting dives are rare since the polar bear is typically a stealth predator and because its coat is highly buoyant. It can nonetheless remain underwater for over three minutes and swim for hundreds of kilometres. It has no natural predators and does not fear humans, especially seal-like divers, which makes it a very dangerous animal. The polar bear is known as nanook by the Inuit.
As of 2017, videographer Mario Cyr had observed more than 30 bears underwater in the Canadian Arctic. None of the bears observed by Cyr ever dove beyond 6 m (20 ft), including aggressive bears that chased him underwater. As of 2018, claims of deeper dives by polar bears are unsubstantiated.
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Jeffrey Gallant is the Editor-in-Chief and Records Keeper of the Diving Almanac. He is also a contributing editor of DIVER Magazine, and the scientific director of the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group (GEERG). Jeffrey started diving in 1982.