In The Arctic Journal, 7 October 2015: Unstable thinking about polar bear habitat [not my title choice]
This is a previously unpublished summary, written exclusively for The Arctic Journal, of my peer-reviewed, fully referenced essay on this topic that was published earlier this year by the Global Warming Policy Foundation in their “Briefing Paper” series (#16, June 8, 2015: The Arctic Fallacy: Sea Ice Stability and the Polar Bear), which includes a foreword by Dr. Matthew Cronin, Professor of Animal Genetics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Pdf here.
Here are the essential points, one by one:
Posted in Conservation Status, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Arctic Journal, decline, GWPF, habitat, IUCN, polar bear, population size, sea ice, spring, summer, thick spring ice
A cougar (aka puma/mountain lion) was captured in downtown Victoria yesterday (my home town), with all the drama given a polar bear attack. No polar bear alert program here, just cougar tracking hounds on standby and officers with guns and tranquilizer darts.
The Globe and Mail has video here.
Details and quotes below. CBC story was the only one to include a map, which I have put into polar bear perspective.
The shore of Alaska is not very important to Southern Beaufort polar bears – most of them stay on the sea ice during the summer and early fall, where they may or may not continue eating. These results of on-going satellite tracking studies by USGS1 confirm results of previous studies.
Posted in Life History, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Alaska, Beaufort Sea, Eliasson, Kaktovik, polar bear, satellite collars, sea ice, Southern Beaufort, tracking, USGS
Recent accounts of an encounter with a curious polar bear female and her two older cubs in the Beaufort Sea on 16 September give contradictory details about the position of sea ice at the time. The same researcher told one reporter that the ship was 240 km from land, another that it was 240 km from the sea ice, and in another account (that he wrote himself), said the ship had been far from land and sea ice.
University of Victoria (Canada) chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen said on the expedition web site:
“After arriving on station and beginning work the crew noticed three polar bears in the water together which swam around to the ship when our water sampling system was nearly 3500 meters below the surface. The ship was located far from sea ice and land. Indeed, Arctic sea ice extent was the fourth lowest on record this year and there has been speculation that this imposes stress on polar bears which rely on the ice to hunt.” [my bold]
But the maps below show that at the time of the incident (taken from the expedition web site) and the NSIDC Masie sea ice map for 16 September 2015, the ship [the CCGS Amundsen, acting as a research vessel] was actually quite close to an isolated large patch of sea ice, although further from the edge of the main pack. A patch of sea ice plenty big enough for a polar bear to rest upon – no wonder the bears did not appear stressed.
And the polar bear biologist Cullen consulted (Dr. Andrew Derocher) implied by his response that the bear was indeed far from sea ice. Reminds me of the swimming polar bear off the Hibernia oil platform off Newfoundland March 2015, which turned out to be not far from ice at all. See what you think.
Posted in Life History, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Amundsen, Beaufort Sea, body condition, curious, Derocher, Jay Cullen, open water, polar bear, sea ice, swimming
Activist polar explorer Børge Ousland’s told National Geographic that more polar bear encounters on land are due to reduced sea ice – without any reference to population changes over that time or revealing when or where these observations were made.
More vague anecdotal observations and opinions posing as scientific evidence.
Posted in Advocacy, Population, Sea ice habitat
Tagged activist, climate change, encounters, explorer, glaciers, Ice Legacy, Kara Sea, National Geographic, polar bear, population size, problem bears, sea ice, Severnaya Zemlya
Latest report on problem bears in Churchill, Manitoba, from the town’s Facebook page. See previous post here for map and background. Last week’s report here.
Photo above: A bear is transported to Churchill’s polar bear holding facility (from a 2011 Huffington Post article, “Polar Bear Prison”).
22 polar bears handled to date this year; 15 bears in the holding facility this week. See also last post on Polar Bear Town – a new TV reality show about Churchill polar bears.
Polar Bear Alert Program Activity Report as of Sep 21 (click to enlarge):
This was kind of fun – featuring the Churchill polar bear guiding trials and tribulations of PolarBearAlley’s Kelsey Eliasson, Dennis Compayre, Brian Ladoon, which premiered Tuesday 22 September in Canada and the US. Supposedly, you can watch online episodes that have aired already (wouldn’t work for me).
This is a ‘reality’ TV series, not a documentary. It won’t be to everyone’s taste. But by focusing on independent polar bear guides, you see the bears in their element (and the goings-on in the town) without the constant lectures about global warming and predictions that the bears are all going to die that are, I understand, a feature of Tundra Buggy tours operated by the largest outfit, Frontiers North, due to its partnership with Polar Bears International, a strongly activist organization that many polar bear biologists belong (including Steven Amstrup, Ian Stirling, Andrew Derocher, former WWF employee Geoff York).
So far, anyway – perhaps the lectures are to come? YouTube Trailer below.
UPDATED 29 September 2015: OLN has posted the first episode on Youtube, copied below.