This video tweet deserves a post of its own: two relatively inexperienced cubs-of-the-year in Russia deliberately break through thin ice, fall into the icy water and crawl back out – over and over again, for fun, as their mother watches in the background. Play is one way animals learn important survival lessons and for polar bears, this is one of them:
Thin ice was a natural component of the Arctic long before polar bears evolved to live there: it is nothing new but dealing with it requires a strategy that cubs must learn.
UPDATE 1 August 2020: here is the same video, better quality, on Youtube:
Here it is broken down as stills: one fat, Chukchi Sea cub deliberately pounces on the ice to break it:
Both crawl out of the icy water:
Both safely crawling over the thin ice:
Compare the above video to the photos and film clips below meant to frighten everyone (including small children) about the plight of polar bears in Western Hudson Bay, from the UK Mirror earlier this year (13 November 2019) “Exhausted polar bears cling to life on thawing ice as they face extinction: These are the desperate polar bears scrambling for survival on Arctic sea ice shrinking beneath their very paws as climate change takes its toll“:
Propaganda-style photo distributed by USGS, taken by US Coast Guard in August 2009:
Also from 2009, is a video from the BBC, called “Polar Bear on Thin Ice – Nature’s Great Events: The Great Melt – BBC One” (10 Feb 2009), which I believe was also used as fund-raising propaganda by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF):
A 2015 pictorial in the Daily Mail (27 December) shows, through a sequence of photos taken by a crewmember of a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, how a big adult male in Alaska used the same strategy for dealing with thin ice as this year’s Russian cub:
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