Those heading off on Polar Bear watching holidays may be interested to know that this bear actually has more than one name. Read on for more.

For avid wildlife lovers, whether it’s the Grizzly, Brown or Polar Bear you want to see in its natural habitat, specialised bear watching holidays will help you realise your dream. Many people have a fascination with Polar Bears, and they certainly are one of the most magnificent animals on our planet, but how many people know they have been referenced over the centuries by several different names?

The Scientific Name

The scientists of our world refer to the animals as Ursus Maritimus, which literally translates to Sea Bear. This name was first used in 1774, when C.J Phipps, an officer in the British navy used it in his novel, A Voyage Towards The North Pole. In later years the scientific name change to Thalarctos, which is derived from the Greek for sea (thalasso), and the Greek for ‘Bear of the North’ (arctos), however, in 1971, scientists once again began to use the original scientific name, Ursus Maritimus.

Other Cultures, Other Names

The Inuit people have their own name for the animal, and if you are going on one of the bear watching holidays in the Arctic you may well hear it. Nanuq is the word used by the Inuits; it refers to an animal that commands huge respect, but when they talk of it in their poetry they also refer to it as Pihoqahiak, which means ‘the ever-wandering one’.

The Russians’ name for these majestic creatures is ‘beliy medved’, meaning ‘white bear’, while in Norway and Denmark it’s known as the Ice Bear, or the Isbjorn. The animal has featured extensively in Norse poetry and has been referred to as the White Sea Deer, the Seal’s Dread, the Whale’s Bane, the Rider of Icebergs and, somewhat romantically, the Sailor of the Floe. They were believed to have the wit of eleven men and the strength of twelve.

The Sami people bestowed the name of ‘God’s Dog’ or ‘Old Man in the Fur Cloak’, not wanting to call the animal by its real name for fear of offence. It is known as the ‘Master of Helping Spirits’, or Tornassuk, in Greenland, and the ‘Grandfather’, by the Ket, a Siberian tribe. Whalers of the 19th century called the Polar Bear the ‘Farmer’ in affectionate reference to the way it walks with a slight pigeon-toed lilt.

To those embarking on Polar Bear watching holidays, these mighty creatures might only be known by one nameFree Reprint Articles, but it’s fascinating to know they have been so revered and referred to in such diverse ways over the centuries.

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At Mole Harbor we found evidence that the bears had caught beaver. And then there it was, about one hundred yards beyond our stranded canoe, and a quarter of a mile away from them, a medium-sized grizzly walking boldly out onto the beach. We decided to stalk him, as the wind, for once, was right. A bear has poor eyesight and might even mistake the three people for another bear. We crouched low, hunched our heads over, and moved in single file behind the guide, so that the bear could never see more than one form approaching. Like a gang of convicts we went, in lock step, toward the unsuspecting mammal, first crunching over the mud and mussels, then splashing through the shallow water. At last the bear lifted his head and looked. Then he continued to waddle slowly toward the channel where the salmon splashed. Not until we were within one hundred yards did he stop to consider. Still the procession kept on, never changing its gait. The bear sat down and scratched himself to appear unconcerned, but it was plain he was puzzled. What was the steadily advancing bulk? Fear seized him when about eighty yards intervened, and he started for shore on a dead run. Water splashed in all directions beneath his flying paws. We raised cameras and began to shoot. The bear hesitated, doubled his speed, then he stopped again. By this time he was over two hundred yards away, and the camera hunters lowered their cameras with satisfied feelings. It had been a good picture, with plenty of action—the best of the trip. Suddenly, without warning, the bear changed his mind. He would not be out-bluffed by this queer-acting thing. He’d show it, he would! On a dead run he went back toward the channel, the water flying beneath him as he galloped. At his goal he raised himself on his hind legs to look out on the bay. He’d let this unusual enemy see what a big bear he was! Then he dropped down on all fours and prepared to fish for salmon, but all the time he kept one eye cocked around to see how this maneuver was working. The humans stood still. They did not seem impressed. This was just too much! The grizzly flung around. He stood up again to show his fighting strength. Then he charged. The guide aimed his gun, we our cameras. With terrific speed the bear came, snarling as he rushed. Then it was that the guide’s cool voice turned the charge of victory into ignominious defeat with the command: “Stop that, boy! Stop it! Stop it quick!” And it worked. The bear stopped, confused, turned, and raced off. And we turned, happy with our photo-trophies.

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