Category Archives: Uncategorized

Polar bear biologists miss the mark in new study on invasive mark-recapture effects

Apparently, some biologists think that outputs from complex computer models will convince native Arctic residents that invasive mark-recapture work has no long-term effect on the health and well-being of polar bears.

 Photo by Jake Steven Arnatsiaq. Original here.


Photo by Jake Steven Arnatsiaq. Original here.

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Lake-effect snow in NY just like Victoria, B.C. blizzards of 1996 & 1916

The Victoria blizzard of 1996 (Dec. 28-29) dropped 124 centimetres (48.8 inches) of snow. Not too far off some recent accumulations around Buffalo and other western New York State communities (great photos here). Just wacky weather (and nothing to do with polar bears) but memorable if you’ve lived through it and the stories out of NY have twigged my memories.

We get a maritime version of “lake-effect” snow here in Victoria (which is on Vancouver Island), where cold air moves offshore from the Interior of the province, travels over the relatively warm Strait of Georgia (see map below) and dumps snow on south island communities. Victoria is renowned for mild winters but when these cold conditions all line up just right, Victoria might as well be Buffalo.

Snow at "Bob's" front door.  A Flickr photo, hope you don't mind, Bob!

Snow at the front door, original here, taken 28 December 1996 in Victoria, B.C.

I didn’t have a camera then, which is a pity, but others did. Someone downtown (where accumulations were somewhat less than 48 inches) made a video, copied below. A diversion from polar bear shenanigans that you might find of interest.
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Global population estimate footnote causes problems for polar bear specialists

Apparently, the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) are catching flack over their global polar bear population estimates.

pbsg logo

Global Population Footnote [its own section, Pg. 32-33, of the minutes of the June 2014 meeting (pdf here). Recall my post on the issue here]

Over the years, the global population estimate found in the Proceedings status table has been used and misused by the general public and self-interest groups. Often the global estimate is taken out of context, without reading all the accompanying text, and used to suggest that the numbers of polar bears have been slightly increasing or at least stable over a period in which much has been made of the loss of sea ice habitat.

In an attempt to clarify this, a footnote to the website status table was drafted. This footnote has subsequently been used to suggest that the PBSG does not really know how many polar bears there are and certainly cannot defend the notion that the loss of sea ice has been a threat to the species.

As a result, the global estimate of 20,000-25,000 polar bears is back in the news and has caused problems for the PBSG. The Group should probably reconsider population estimates for data deficient subpopulations for the next status table.

In the meantime, there was considered to be value in drafting an explanation for the global population estimate of 20,000-25,000 for the online status table. It was thought that this would be a better approach than to directly engage those who have been misusing the information.” [my bold]

[As I showed in my post, the text accompanying the PBSG status tables for 2005 and 2009 did not include a clarification of this kind – the only mention of this uncertainty was found in the drafted press release published at the end of the document]

Another statement in the June 2014 minutes caught my eye:

K. Laidre summarized the need for the PBSG to do a better job of communicating accurate and balanced science about polar bears.” Pg. 28

In my next post, I’ll show you how they did on this assignment.

 

Christmas collage

Warmest regards and heartfelt thanks for your support over the last year. Have a wonderful holiday.

Susan

Christmas collage 2013 PolarBearScience

The first 6 months of a new science blog: PolarBearScience Aug 2012-Jan 2013

Here’s a bit of “new blog” stats. It might be of interest later or for others starting a new blog and looking for comparisons.

I started blogging on July 26 2012, so technically my first six months ended a few days ago. But I thought I’d focus on the first 6 full months, since WordPress calculates many of its stats that way.

From Aug. 1, 2012 to Jan. 31, 2013, PolarBearScience had readers from 96 countries around the world, see map below, which was not a big surprise. Polar bear conservation is an international issue that feeds off a global fascination with polar bear life history and evolution.

Views of PolarBearScience by country, Aug. 1, 2012 to Jan. 31, 2013

Views of PolarBearScience by country, Aug. 1, 2012 to Jan. 31, 2013

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Merry Christmas

My rendition, in gingerbread, of three polar bears on an iceberg. Happy holidays to you all.

My rendition, in gingerbread, of three polar bears on an iceberg.
Happy holidays to you all.

Fat polar bears chew on whale bones, chase dog

Brief interlude from Western Hudson Bay. My fascination with Arctic dogs and polar bears collides in Alaska!

BILL HESS / logbookwasilla.com

A string of remarkable photos of polar bears at the Kaktovik whale carcass dump (leftovers from subsistence whaling) on Barter Island on the north slope of Alaska and a dog having some fun, by Wasilla photographer Bill Hess, posted at this blog hereGo have a look. Note the condition of the bears, nice and fat from the look of it. Maps below to get you oriented geographically.

I had a Malamute years ago who played like this with horses…whole different game when played with polar bears!

From Anchorage Daily News feature from a few days ago. continue reading