From the live cams installed on beluga tour boats running near the Churchill River, we have some good photos of a few fat polar bears onshore in Western Hudson Bay.
These bears were attracted to the remnants of a beluga carcass with nothing much left on it (lower right in the photo) and stayed around for at least a few days. The female with her cub-of-the-year was remarkably tolerant of an adult male nearby.
These photos were taken 15 July 2022 from a live cam mounted on a beluga tour boat and posted in the comments section of the Explore.org website. Ironically, no bears have yet been spotted by the live polar bear cams installed on the shore of Wapusk National Park south of Churchill: nothing but clouds and ravens for the last few weeks.
Three days later (below), the mother/cub pair were still there (18 July 2022):
The shot below, taken 19 July, shows how fat this female is despite having nursed a cub for months:
Sea ice conditions
The pattern of remaining ice on Hudson Bay is similar this year at mid-to-late July as the common pattern experienced from the 1970s-2000, according to a paper published in 2004 by Ian Stirling and colleagues (below) but rare to uncommon since then.
Status of Tagged Bears
As of 15 July, only one of Andrew Derocher’s tagged Western Hudson Bay polar bears had come ashore. It’s looking like this could be a repeat of 2020, when the last of the tagged bears didn’t come offf the ice until the third week of August.
Stirling, I., Lunn, N., Iacozza, J., et al. 2004. Polar bear distribution and abundance on the southwestern Hudson Bay coast during open water season, in relation to population trends and annual sea ice patterns. Arctic 57:15-26.
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