Polar bears are excellent swimmers and can sustain a pace of 10kph (6.2mph) in cold icy waters by using their front paws like oars while their hind legs are held flat like a rudder.
They can swim for several hours at a time over long distances - some have been tracked swimming continuously for 100km (62 miles) - and can stay under water for as long as 2 minutes.
Its Latin name, Ursus maritimus
, means “sea bear”, reflecting the fact that the species spends much of its life in and around water, and on offshore pack ice where they like to hunt.
Melting sea ice as a result of climate change, however, poses a severe threat to the polar bear’s survival, a threat that it may not be able to swim its way out of so easily.
Scientists believe polar bears may disappear in the wild within 100 years if global warming continues unabated.