The polar bear – also known as the King of the Arctic – is one of the world’s largest carnivores. The polar bear population in the Svalbard archipelago and Barents Sea is around 3,000, which exceeds the human population. The polar bear is considered a marine mammal as it spends most of its life on the drifting sea ice. Polar bear sightings are most common on the surrounding islands east of Spitsbergen, but you should be prepared to encounter a polar bear anywhere in Svalbard.
Female polar bears give birth to their cubs in snow caves, and the cubs generally remain with their mother until they are around two years old. Their diet consists primarily of ringed seal, which is the most common seal species in the waters surrounding Svalbard.