Tag Archives: Hudson Bay

Last WH polar bears ashore even later than 2009 as Hudson Bay finally becomes ice-free

According to Andrew Derocher this morning, the last of his teams’ tagged polar bears have come ashore in Western Hudson Bay, in the last week of August. That makes two years out of the last three when the tagged WH bears came ashore as late, or later than, they had done in 2009 (a very cold year when they were onshore by about 20/21 August), something Derocher failed to mention during a CBC Radio interview also published today.

Don’t forget: this is the subpopulation that polar bear specialists use to model the future of all bears, everywhere in the Arctic but only use stale data from the 2000s because including more recent information would give a much more optimistic picture.

Meanwhile, no further reports from Churchill about problem bears: the last one issued was for the first week in August. Time will tell at freeze-up whether this will be yet another very good year for Western Hudson Bay bears.

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Grizzly on the shore of W. Hudson Bay and two tagged polar bears still on sea ice at 17 August

A tundra grizzly was again caught on the live cam set up for polar bears last week (15 August) but was too late for interspecies hankypanky, even as some polar bears lingered on invisible offshore sea ice.

A polar bear rests on the ice Aug. 23, 2009, after following the Coast Guard Cutter Healy for nearly an hour in the Beaufort Sea.

Polar bear specialist Andrew Derocher reported that two of his 23 tagged polar bears were still on the sea ice, a phenomenon that’s been happening since at least 2015 at breakup. Instead of heading to shore when the sea ice concentration dwindles below 50% coverage, some bears are choosing to lounge around on decaying bits of ice, sometimes into late July or well into August, until they must finally swim ashore. There is no evidence that the bears continue to successfully hunt seals under these conditions but no evidence either that their choice to stay on the ice rather than move to land at this time of year has had any negative impact on their health or survival.

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Most Hudson Bay polar bears are still offshore, excellent ice conditions for late July

With only a few days until the end of July, most Western Hudson Bay polar bears are still on a thick band of thick first year ice that remains close to shore. The few bears that have come off the ice appear to be nice and fat, indicating they had good spring feeding conditions.

Untagged bear with cub, near Churchill River, 18 July 2022

We’ll have to wait a few more weeks to see if this year shapes up as it did in 2020, when the last of bears didn’t come ashore until the third week of August, despite there being very little visible ice. Last year, most of the bears were ashore by the end of July.

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First tagged W Hudson Bay polar bear comes ashore

On the 8th July, the first of almost two dozen tagged or collared polar bears came ashore in Western Hudson Bay (WH) under unusual sea ice conditions. How does this compare to previous years?

Image above is from last year (6 July 2021): we haven’t yet had a sighting from the live cams on the shore of Wapusk National Park near Churchill reported at Explore.org.

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Hudson Bay polar bears still have lots of ice at July 1

Although some have come ashore in the north around Arviat, most polar bears are still on the ice. Disaster averted for another season as predictions of doom fail to meet reality.

24 June 2022, courtesy Gordy Kidlapik at Arviat (via twitter).

Sea ice on Hudson Bay is still abundant in the southwest sector, including around Churchill, and much of that is still thick first year ice (>1.2m thick, dark green on the ‘stage of development’ charts).

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Mid-December polar bear habitat update

Compared to last year, polar bear habitat at 15 December 2021 is way up in the Barents and Bering Seas but way down in Hudson Bay but nothing any polar bear has to worry about.

Here’s what the ice charts look like.

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Sea ice cometh to Hudson Bay: freeze-up has begun

Although it may take until the end of the month for all Western and Southern Hudson Bay bears (except for pregnant females) to have returned to the ice, freeze-up has finally begun in earnest and today some bears are already heading out to resume feeding before winter sets in. This is 3.5 weeks later than last year when WH bears were first spotted have killed a seal on 31 October.

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Polar bear habit more extensive in most areas of the Arctic compared to previous years

Mid-November is half-way through the Arctic fall season (October-December) and polar bear habitat is expanding slowly. Here’s a look at fall conditions compared to previous years, so you can see where bears may still be ashore and fasting (i.e. Hudson Bay and southern Foxe Basin) and where others have already resumed feeding.

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Polar bear habitat update for end July 2021 compared to previous years

Here’s a trip down memory lane for Arctic sea ice at the end of July, which as far as I can see provides no evidence that a very low sea ice disaster is in the cards for polar bears this year.

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Western Hudson Bay polar bears: still some out on the sea ice, some causing trouble

As of Monday (19 July), more polar bears had come ashore near Churchill and on the shores of Wakusp National Park but some are still out on the bay. The pattern of ice breakup this year means most bears will come ashore well south of Churchill and make their way north over the summer and fall. There have been two Churchill ‘problem’ bear reports so far but not one for this week, so I’ll go ahead and post without it.

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