During late autumn in Canada, home to 60 percent of the world’s polar bear population, the annual migration of these majestic and massive creatures kicks off. Polar bears head to Churchill, Manitoba, in early November, preparing for the Hudson Bay freeze-up, which will give them access to an important food source: seals.
The receding sea ice caused by global climate change, however, is creating a tenuous situation for polar bears. Carbon emissions from fossil fuels contribute to rising global temperatures, and the Polar Regions are especially vulnerable; in fact, a 2014 study published in Nature Geoscience found that the Arctic region has warmed more than twice as fast as the global average.
Climate change threatens the polar bear habitat by reducing the volume and availability of sea ice, which the species relies on for hunting. What can you do to help? This November, you can start by showing your support for Polar Bears International’s Polar Bear Week Energy Challenge.
Get to Know Polar Bears International
Arctic expedition passengers who witness the spectacle of a polar bear hunting, swimming or even just lazing around on a patch of sea ice often become passionate, long-term supporters of Polar Bears International (PBI). The not-for-profit group supports scientific research, the Save Our Sea Ice campaign and other important polar bear conservation and protection initiatives.
Quark Expeditions® is an ardent and proud supporter of PBI’s work, we adopted a polar bear of our own! You can track our bear, Polaris (X37136), on the Polar Bear Tracker map to see where she and her cub are hanging out.
If you’re determined to see the world’s largest land carnivore in person, Spitsbergen, Norway, is where you want to be. As you spend your days Zodiac cruising and hiking, be on the lookout for wildlife. The areas around Hornsund and the towering bird cliffs of Alkefjellet are well-known polar bear hunting grounds.
In Canada’s Far North, massive Baffin Island and the nearby uninhabited Monumental Island are excellent places to spot a polar bear on the prowl.
How You Can Help Protect the Polar Bear’s Habitat
The Polar Bear Week Energy Challenge is designed to raise awareness but also help humans protect polar bear habitats in a real and tangible way by reducing our carbon emissions.
You’re invited to join us and show your support 30 Oct - 5 Nov 2016 by doing the following:
- Change your lightbulbs to energy-efficient CFL or LED ones, consider replacing your old appliances with Energy Star-certified or other energy-efficient models, and switch to smart power strips in your home to reduce power consumption.
- Adjust your home’s heating and cooling systems (they account for 17 percent of all global warming emissions in the United States). Keeping your home even 1 degree cooler in winter and 1 degree warmer in summer can have a positive impact!
- Encourage youth age 11 to 17 to lead their peers and community in a Power Down Challenge.
- Let your local, regional and federal representatives know how you feel about global climate change and make this important issue a part of your voting decisions.
- Inspire U.S. leadership on climate change by signing PBI’s carbon tax petition.
Participate in Climate Change Initiatives with PBI & Quark Year-Round
Arctic sustainability and conservation are constantly top of mind for many polar travelers. PBI’s Polar Bear Week Energy Challenge is part of its larger Save Our Sea Ice (SOS) campaign, which runs each year from International Polar Bear Day in February to Polar Bear Week in November. You can take part in Earth Day, support Arctic Sea Ice Day or even challenge yourself to conserve energy and be a polar advocate all year round.
On board arctic expeditions, passengers are invited to participate in a charity auction. At these events, they have contributed an average of US$150,000 each season to support PBI and other charities dedicated to polar sustainability and preservation.
Contact a Polar Travel Adviser today to learn which arctic expeditions are best for polar bear viewing. Then, join the Quark community and get involved in the conversations around polar travel and sustainability!