<p>A <a href="http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/polar-bear/">polar bear</a> swims underwater in the Saint-Félicien Wildlife Zoo in Saint-Félicien, <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/family-trips/quebec-city-canada/">Quebec</a>, in a picture distributed early last month. According to Environment Canada, <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/canada-guide/">Canada</a> is home to around 15,000 of the estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in the world. The U.S., <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/russia-guide/">Russia</a>, Greenland, and <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/norway-guide/">Norway</a> are the other four countries or territories where polar bears can be found in the wild.</p><p>(See <em>National Geographic </em>magazine <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/07/polar-bears/schulz-photography">polar bear pictures</a>.)</p><p><strong>Why We Love It</strong></p><p>"The soft fur on the bear's paw and the air bubbles streaking from its nose create a velvety texture in this image. This is the type of picture that makes the viewer feel they are underwater too, eyes closed, going up for air."<em>—Sarah Polger, senior photo editor</em> <br> <br>"This picture shows a strangely serene moment in a fast-moving situation. Some might ascribe this to luck, but I imagine it was the result of carefully shooting the same scene for a long time."<em>—Chris Combs, news photo editor</em></p>

Polar Bear Plunge

A polar bear swims underwater in the Saint-Félicien Wildlife Zoo in Saint-Félicien, Quebec, in a picture distributed early last month. According to Environment Canada, Canada is home to around 15,000 of the estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in the world. The U.S., Russia, Greenland, and Norway are the other four countries or territories where polar bears can be found in the wild.

(See National Geographic magazine polar bear pictures.)

Why We Love It

"The soft fur on the bear's paw and the air bubbles streaking from its nose create a velvety texture in this image. This is the type of picture that makes the viewer feel they are underwater too, eyes closed, going up for air."—Sarah Polger, senior photo editor

"This picture shows a strangely serene moment in a fast-moving situation. Some might ascribe this to luck, but I imagine it was the result of carefully shooting the same scene for a long time."—Chris Combs, news photo editor

Photograph by Mathieu Belanger, Reuters

Pictures We Love: Best of November

See National Geographic photo editors' favorite news pictures of the month—a "flying" rhino, an up-close eruption, and more.

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