Even though it is well known that subadult male polar bears (≤ 4 years old) continue to grow in mass and bulk as they mature – so that their thick necks get even larger – in recent years Andrew Derocher and his students at the University of Alberta potentially endangered the lives of many subadult males in the Southern Beaufort in the process of learning relatively little they didn’t already know.
Money quote from a just-accepted paper by Master’s student Jody Pongracz and supervisor Derocher (“Summer refugia of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in the southern Beaufort Sea” Polar Biology, in press 2016):
“The number of bears tracked varied over time due to collar design, deployment, and both planned and unplanned collar retention.”
So, how much “unplanned collar retention” issues [collars that did not fall off as expected] went on during this 2007-2010 study? They don’t say.
Is this paper saying U of A researchers knew they had ‘collar retention’ issues as far back as 2010 but continued to deploy them on subadult males after that study was over? It seems so, because they had an issue with just such a bear last year.
The bear with an apparently tight collar that was photographed last fall (see photo above) went out onto the ice and no one knows what happened – there has been no more information on him since, although researchers have apparently been watching for him, updated just yesterday). The University of Alberta statement says (under the June 2 update):
“Ongoing research at the University of Alberta is shifting to ear tag radios as required”
So now they realize that putting collars on subadult males is not such a good idea. Brilliant!
CBC News (28 October 2015): “Photo shows polar bear injured by tight radio collar“. See previous posts here and here. In a Global News interview (23 November 2015), Derocher admitted his team had “likely” put the collar on that bear, prompting the University of Alberta to issue a “Q & A” statement on the incident – which continues to insist that failure of collars to release is “rarely seen.”
Posted in Life History, Sea ice habitat, Uncategorized
Tagged Andy, Derocher, failures, problems with collars, satellite collars, sea ice, Southern Beaufort, subadult males, thick spring ice, tight collar, University of Alberta
I watched an episode of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week last Friday and I have to admit, it gave me a terrifying déjà vu moment.
Specifically, it was the episode called “Shark Bait” (1 July 2016) – about the potentially explosive problem of booming populations of grey seals around Cape Cod (NE US, Massachusetts), the increasing numbers of great white sharks that are moving in to hunt them (see trailers here and here), and the thousands of relatively blasé humans that play and surf in the shallows nearby. UPDATE: video now available on Youtube, see below:
What could possibly go wrong?
I’ve already imagined what could go wrong – in my polar bear attack thriller, EATEN.
The parallels of EATEN with this developing shark situation are more than a little unnerving and makes it clear that my piece of speculative fiction may apply to more than polar bears. [ebooks still on sale for 99 cents – see direct links at bottom of this post]
See the details on the great white shark/seal conundrum below and decide for yourself.
Posted in Polar bear attacks, Uncategorized
Tagged Cape Cod, Eaten, epidemic, great white, grey seals, JAWS, population explosion, shark, Shark Bait, shark problems, shark week, speculative fiction, thriller
Surprise! US Geological Survey polar bear specialists have just published another opinion-based model that concludes – yet again – that there is no hope for polar bears of the future unless the world drastically reduces fossil fuel use. This appears to be the Amstrup-led rebuttal to the hated 2015 IUCN Red List polar bear assessment I have been expecting, written in tandem with the Red List document by two of the same co-authors (Steve Amstrup and Todd Atwood).
Really, no surprises here – just more of the same overwrought fear-mongering about polar bears that we’ve been hearing from USGS since 2007. I saw Atwood and Amstrup last week in a British-made TV film that expressed the same sentiments (The Great Polar Bear Feast – it oddly featured dozens of fat/very fat Kaktovik polar bears while mostly USGS ‘experts’ talked about impending starvation). On camera, Atwood and Amstrup were almost indistinguishable in their statements of doom, and even though the film aired 6 months ago in the UK, it has so far not garnered the angst it seems to have intended.
Some folks may be even more convinced than ever by this new PR strategy [TV movie plus a published paper] that the polar bears are all going to die unless we (not they) change our wicked ways and stop using fossil fuels, but chances are that many more will detect the desperation in their escalated pitch and continue to refuse to buy what they are so frantically trying to sell.
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Sea ice habitat, Uncategorized
Tagged activists, Amstrup, Atwood, climate change, fear-mongering, global warming, greenhouse gases, models, opinion, polar bear, Red list, sea ice, USGS
The air is thick with desperation on the polar bear front:
“[Andrew] Derocher said the polar bear population in the Beaufort Sea has fallen more than 50 per cent in the past 10 years.
“So it is a concern that this is probably one of the factors associated with the population decline,” he said.
As the CBC report in which this quote appears states immediately afterwards, there is no evidence for such a thing in the paper under discussion:
“The study found no direct evidence of that – all polar bears appeared to survive the swims recorded in the study.”
There is no truth to Derocher’s first statement either. Desperation – you don’t have to be a scientist to sense it. And the media wonder why people don’t trust them…
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Beaufort Sea, Derocher, desperation, Earth Day, facts, hype, Michaels, polar bear, population crash, sea ice, swimming
I’ve got two special deals running on my polar bear attack novel for the rest of the month: you can enter to win an autographed copy of the paperback and/or enjoy 60% off most ebook formats.
I’ll also be publishing daily PolarBearScience articles and thought-provoking essays for the rest of this month – up to, and including, International Polar Bear Day on the 27th. Stay tuned.
The media promote this ‘polar bear who died of climate change’ rubbish because it’s good for business but there is no evidence to support it. The Daily Mail today is running a piece that encourages the self-serving, sensationalist claim made by a photographer trying to sell his book.
Read the whole thing here but remember this: the leading cause of death for all polar bears is starvation, in part because they have no natural enemies. Polar bears die of starvation every year, with or without ‘climate change.’
This bear might have died of starvation but that does not mean global warming is to blame. It’s bad enough when it’s a leading polar bear biologist making such a ridiculous claim but there is no reason at all to take the scientifically baseless word of Sebastian Copeland on this matter.
Previous posts where I have addressed similar claims:
Last year’s dead Svalbard polar bear used for this year’s propaganda
Polar bear behaviour gets the animal tragedy porn treatment – two new papers
Cannibalism in polar bears: spin and misrepresentation of fact galore posted
Ian Stirling’s howler update: contradicted by scientific data
The New York Times has a “Love and Death” theme for their books section this Valentine’s Day weekend – wouldn’t my new novel fit right in?
In fact, I gave a polar bear lecture to a men’s club a few days ago and two of the guys bought copies of EATEN as Valentine’s gifts for their wives.
One man said, “That’s not wrong, is it?” Truly, absolutely not!
Most women love a good book. EATEN has several strong female characters that women (and men) will admire. There’s a thread of potential romance that runs through the riveting terror of multiple polar bear attacks – enough to peak a woman’s interest but not so much to put a man off.
The book has been selling well and getting excellent reviews. Soon, EATEN will be on bookshelves across Newfoundland and Labrador – I’ve made a deal with a major Atlantic book distributor who thinks the book will be a good seller. That’s rare for a self-published novel, I can tell you.
So, go ahead – buy EATEN for the one you love and help support the work I do here at PolarBearScience. At Amazon USA here; Barnes and Noble here or the Book Depository (which has free delivery worldwide); Amazon UK here. Other ebook options here.