Lumbering, rolling, and frolicking over the arctic sea ice is the world’s largest land predator. With translucent fur, webbed feet, and weighing in at over a thousand pounds, these creatures have fascinated us since we first laid eyes on them. So, we’re traveling to the top of the world with a few storytellers who show us a different side of the famous bears of the north: the polar bear!

These amazing creatures have a unique spot in all of our hearts. But when’s the last time you sat down to truly celebrate them? If I’m being honest, for me, it had been a while. I’ve found it difficult to learn about these magnificent creatures when every story I hear about them leaves me more upset than when I started.

But after watching the video I’m sharing in this article, I started wondering: if we celebrated more of what makes these creatures so wonderful, in place of talking about them like they’re already gone, would that impact their survival rates?

So, grab your parka. We’re heading to the frozen land of Svalbard—a place where temperatures stay below -20 degrees celsius (-4F) for days on end—to experience the otherworldly landscape of the Arctic, where some of the worlds most magnificent creatures are rolling about!

This is an edition of Saturday’s Around the World you won’t want to miss!

Image: Two polar bears

Source: Pixabay

Okay, okay, now I know you just saw a photo of a polar bear and that probably gives you mixed feelings. We’re used to seeing them as the poster child for the melting arctic. But they are still here and magnificent! And we’ll get people to work towards saving them if we take time to celebrate their majesty. So, let’s put any sadness on the shelf for the next 15 minutes, alright?

To get you in the mood before we watch this beautiful video, here are some rapid-fire polar bear facts that I think are awesome:

  • They are considered to be a marine mammal, which makes them the only bear to be given this title. Other than totally cool, this is also a superb bragging point, if you ask me. 1
  • According to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), they can swim constantly for days at a time! They have webbed feet! So, while just the thought of that makes me tired, I had a friend in middle school with webbed feet and she swore that it made her swim better. 2
  • WWF also noted that male polar bears can weigh the same as 10 men. 3 Which is wild. Just imagine that— think about ten men you know in your mind and then imagine them all on a big scale. Ballpark that number to the nearest 100 (or thousand), and that’s the male polar bear. (For reference, they average about 1,700 pounds.) 4
  • To handle the cold temperatures, polar bears grow thick hair everywhere, even under their paws! 5 I just think that’s so cute!
  • But guess what! That hair isn’t actually white, it’s transparent. While we see polar bears as white, it’s purely because of how our eyes register color! In another twist, their hair is hollow. And it’s those air spaces that reflect away all of the wavelengths of our visible color spectrum, and well, that’s what white is: the absence of color. 6 (These little air pockets are why some polar bears have been seen to have a bit of a green hue to them. Algae from the ponds in zoo enclosures live inside of them!) 7

Okay, are you hyped to find one of these optical illusions of the north in the wild, yet? Or what?

Don’t worry, we’re in trusted hands. Abraham Joffe, Dom West, and Joshua Holko are super talented filmmakers and photographers, and judging by their Instagrams (which I have linked in each of their names), they’re quite experienced on the whole adventure front.

So, that means you and I don’t need to actually go out and purchase our big boots and coats, and jump on our snowmobiles and spend a week getting frostbitten in the Arctic to see these royal creatures. Nah—we can sit right here with our space heater blowing on our faces and enjoy the ride. Here we go!

I highly suggest making the video full screen. The visuals are absolutely breathtaking!

How stunning was that? Apparently, during their expedition, they encountered 7 individual bears total!  If you have an Instagram, you really need to go follow all of those creators, including Untitled Film Works. They really do a wonderful job sharing the stories of their experience outside of the finished product and it’s a joy to explore!

If you are feeling compelled to help the polar bears keep being the majestic emblems of the north, you can actually adopt a polar bear for a few dollars a month through the World Wildlife Fund!

And if you’d like to learn a little more about what life’s like for the polar bear… this video from National Geographic has baby cubs in it!

It’s another super rewarding bear hunt (not the bad kind) that, because of storytellers, we get to enjoy.

Find more videos from the beloved publication, National Geographic, by clicking here!

The Power in the Story

We are storytelling animals. 10 Stories have been the fuel to our success as a species, for with each tale, a lesson is passed on. We learn where the best berries are, how to move forward with our careers, what to avoid, and expand our view of the world with every journey through our imagination we go on. The more stories we hear, the knowledge we can access, and the better we’ve been able to survive.

But when the story we keep hearing constantly makes our stomachs turn, we begin to avoid it. That’s a problem.

How can we help polar bears survive when we’re continuously avoiding them due to the negative feelings we’ve associated with them? My question is: if we step back to celebrate them, to learn more about what makes them so awesome, will more of the pieces begin to fall into place? Will more people be able to pay attention? To feel that they can actually make a difference in saving these creatures?

Storytellers, like the fellows who brought us along on the journey to the arctic, are the key to this. By capturing their amazing adventures with these noble creatures, they show us a world most of us will never see in person. Not to mention, bring us up close and personal with a creature that even fewer will find face-to-face in the wild—giving us a chance to look past the stories on the news for ourselves.

While most of us can’t physically travel the world, it’s amazing that we still can.

A few hundred years ago, that wouldn’t have been possible! Now, you and I can discover the wonder of the world outside our borders and realities outside our perception, just by pressing a few buttons as we sit in our pajamas.

Filmmakers and photographers are traveling the globe to show the rest of us what’s out there. They encounter brutal environments and too many failed shoots to count, just to capture the stories unfolding around the world. And the way they share their content has a ripple effect on policies and laws that go into protecting their subjects.

All you have to do is take a look at the following articles to see how other filmmakers helping the people and animals they love!

13 minutes

How TurtleCams are Enlisting Turtles to Protect their Ocean!

Do you remember the viral video of the sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nose? It changed the way many people saw our ocean plastic problem. And now, the scientists behind that video are keeping the positive momentum going—this time turning to the turtles themselves for footage of how we can help make a difference!

Read More

25 minutes

What if Mass Media was Used for Good?

There’s more power in positive media than just making us feel good! Sharing stories that celebrate progress around the world has the ability to change lives. Check out this collective of creators redefining the way we tell the stories about some of our world’s biggest issues, and the people working to alleviate them.

Read More

26 minutes

The Art, Technology, and Wonder of Filming Wildlife

Explore what goes on behind the lens to capture nature at its most extraordinary! The art of filming wildlife brings the natural world into our homes, inspiring wonder, and reshaping the future along the way.

Read More

We rely on filmmakers and writers to capture bits and pieces of the world to show us what’s happening out there. For with every story they bring to our screens, the more we’re able to keep growing.

As always, stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein

Access uplifting stories whenever you need them, right from your phone!

That’s right, we’ve launched an app! We’re on a mission to change the negative dialogue about our times. And your download and subscription is a vote for positivity! Subscribe now for less than a dollar a month over in the Apple or Google Play stores!

Notes:

  1. “10 Things You Probably Don’t Know about Bears.” MNN – Mother Nature Network, 2015, www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/photos/10-things-probably-dont-know-about-bears/polar-bears-are-considered-marine-mammals. Accessed 28 Apr. 2020.
  2. “Top 10 Facts about Polar Bears.” WWF, 2017, www.wwf.org.uk/learn/fascinating-facts/polar-bears. Accessed 28 Apr. 2020.
  3. “Top 10 Facts about Polar Bears.” WWF, 2017, www.wwf.org.uk/learn/fascinating-facts/polar-bears. Accessed 28 Apr. 2020.
  4. “Polar Bear | National Wildlife Federation.” National Wildlife Federation, 2011, www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Mammals/Polar-Bear. Accessed 28 Apr. 2020.
  5. “Polar Bear | National Geographic.” Nationalgeographic.Com, 10 Sept. 2010, www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/p/polar-bear/. Accessed 28 Apr. 2020.
  6. “Polar Bear Characteristics: Fur, Skin, Paws, Claws, and Weight – Polar Bears International.” Polarbearsinternational.Org, 2020, polarbearsinternational.org/polar-bears/characteristics/. Accessed 28 Apr. 2020.
  7. LEWIN, RALPH A., and PHILLIP T. ROBINSON. “The Greening of Polar Bears in Zoos.” Nature, vol. 278, no. 5703, Mar. 1979, pp. 445–447, www.nature.com/articles/278445a0, 10.1038/278445a0. Accessed 28 Apr. 2020.
  8. Untitled Film Works. “Ghosts of the Arctic in Vimeo Staff Picks.” Vimeo, 28 Apr. 2020, vimeo.com/channels/staffpicks/226201181. Accessed 28 Apr. 2020.
  9. National Geographic. “The Life of a Baby Polar Bear – Ep. 4 | Wildlife: The Big Freeze.” YouTube, 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vgnXRypc4o&feature=emb_title. Accessed 28 Apr. 2020
  10. PBS NewsHour. “The Science of Storytelling: A Conversation with Jonathan Gottschall.” PBS NewsHour, 14 June 2012, www.pbs.org/newshour/science/on-the-science-of-storytelling. Accessed 28 Apr. 2020.

Sam Burns

Editor in Chief

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and procurer of cheeses.