Category Archives: The Arctic

Polar Bear Blog – Bears Ready, Ice Not So Much

On this day last year, bear season was over.  Enough ice had packed onto shore that most of Churchill's bears left en masse, heading back out to try their luck at early season seal hunting.  Other than a stressed out reality film crew, everyone was pretty excited about yet another early freeze. This year holds a much different story.  El Nino has finally arrived and its really almost t-shirt weather in Churchill, possibly even naked sun bathing.  The Churchill River is still open and south winds have washed the shore ice back into the bay.  Early … Continue Reading ››

Polar Bear Blog – The Northwest Passage Lost

In the race of northern shipping routes, its becoming pretty clear that the Northwest Passage has lost.  Still clogged with ice, we are entering yet another year of poor navigation across the Canadian Arctic.  Hudson Strait has had heavier ice than normal, Iqaluit's breakup was weeks later than normal and, well, its just not a great season for commercial shipping in northern Canada. The Northeast Passage, on the other hand, has been open for some time and traffic just seems to be gathering steam over there.  This is a bit of a mixed bag in terms … Continue Reading ››

Polar Bear Blog – Oh No There Goes Tokyo

Well, this could be an interesting year...  Bears are spread out along the coast with good sightings at Arviat, Seal River and Churchill.  For some bears, its been a banner year especially if they rode the sea ice far south into Ontario.  From all reports, its looking like a good year and hopefully this means a good cub production year as well, looks like our bears may need it. I've written about the Pacific Blob and a potential El Nino (The Little Boy) for a while now but now it looks like … Continue Reading ››

Polar Bear Blog – Hudson Bay Sea Ice

Sea ice is rapidly declining across the arctic and many bears are ashore for another season, up to 40% of the world's polar bears spend some time on shore through the year.  Overall, arctic sea ice is below the 30 year average but above the record lows of late.  Regionally, this means a lot of things, Russian bears as usual seem like they are in tough once again, Southern Beaufort bears could have some long swims ahead of them. On the other hand, Baffin and Hudson Bay bears are looking to have a pretty … Continue Reading ››

Polar Bear Blog – Holy Diver

A very interesting report has surfaced from Svalbard.  Published by Ian Stirling and Rinie Van Meurs, it records open water hunting behaviour that kind of takes things to a new level. In the late spring and summer, polar bears will hunt seals in and from the water.  Their most common open-water hunt is an 'aquatic stalk' where they swim up behind seals, sometimes diving underneath ice floes and then 'exploding' out of the water, trying to grab an unsuspecting seal. This bear quietly slid into the water about 50m (164 ft) away … Continue Reading ››

Polar Bear Blog – Walking Hibernationish Sort of

A recent study out of Alaska is gaining a fair bit of traction in the media, raising alarm bells that 'polar bears are not able to adapt to climate change' and the usual hub-bub.  It is a fairly comprehensive study of polar bear biology from spring to fall, measuring body temperature, locomotion and that sort of thing.  It is also a study that turns a few common polar bear facts on their head. First of all, the study suggests that 'walking hibernation' is actually not that important an adaptation for polar bears, if it exists at … Continue Reading ››