Polar bear alarmists double-down on message of future starving bears

It seems thicker sea ice in the region was the cause, but they ignore that fact.

By Dr. Susan Crockford

The really significant content of a new paper being heavily-hyped by the media1 is what wasn’t said rather than what the authors discovered about metabolic rates and weight maintenance of a small sample of nine Southern Beaufort Sea bears in 2014 to 2016 (Pagano et al. 2018; Whiteman 2018).

Pagano et al. 2018 photo released to press 2

This paper does not document starving or dying bears but merely found some (5/9) that lost weight when they should have been gaining, given that early April is the start of the ringed seal pupping season (Smith 1987) and the intensive spring feeding period for polar bears (Stirling et al. 1981).

The question is, why were Southern Beaufort Sea polar bears off Prudhoe Bay (see map of the study area below), still hunting and capturing only adult and subadult ringed seals from sea ice leads when newborn ringed seal pups and their mothers should have been plentiful and relatively easily available in their birth lairs on the sea ice (see below)?

Ringed seal lair_snow and ice thickness_PolarBearScience_sm

“Using video collar data, we documented bears’ hunting behavior and foraging success. Bears used sit-and-wait tactics to hunt seals 90% of the time, and stalking comprised the remaining 10% of hunts (movies S1 to S4) (19). Bears that successfully killed and ate adult or subadult ringed seals either gained or maintained body mass, whereas bears that only scavenged or showed no evidence of eating lost mass.”

There was no discussion in the paper of ringed seal birth lairs, or sea ice conditions at the time of the study, but several mentions about what might happen in the future to sea ice and potential consequences for polar bears. The press release did the same.

However, as you’ll see by the sea ice thickness maps below, there may be good reason for the lack of ringed seal lairs, and a general lack of seals except at the nearshore lead that forms because of tidal action: the ice just a bit further offshore ice looks too thick for a good crop of ringed seals in all three years of the study.

This is reminiscent of conditions that occurred with devastating results in the mid-1970s and mid-2000s (Burns et al. 1975; Cherry et al. 2009; Harwood et al. 2012, 2015; Pilfold et al. 2012; Stirling 2002, Stirling et al. 1987). Those events affected primarily bears in the eastern half of the Southern Beaufort and were almost certainly responsible for the recorded decline in SB bear numbers in the 2001-2010 survey (Bromaghin et al. 2015; Crockford 2017; Crockford and Geist 2018).

It seems very odd to me that Pagano and colleagues suggested no reasons for the unexpectedly poor showing of polar bear hunting success during their study except a bit of hand-waving about higher-than-we-thought metabolic rates in the bears. For years, I’ve worried that the inevitable next episodes of thick Southern Beaufort spring ice would cause problems for polar bears and seals but we wouldn’t know it because whatever effects were documented would be blamed on reduced summer ice: I suspect that time may have come.

Pagano et al. 2018 polar bear fat and energy fig 1

Figure 1 from Pagano et al. 2018 cropped to show only the study area off Alaska.

Here are some sea ice thickness maps from the US Navy for the three years of the study, with 2015 shown first.

Beaufort sea ice thickness_2015 April 8 NRL

Ice thickness map from the Naval Research Laboratory for 8 April 2015. Look at the thick band of 5 m thick ice along the exact stretch of Alaska coastline where the Pagano et al. 2018 study took place. Ringed seals cannot live, let alone give birth, in that kind of thick ice habitat and must move to areas of thinner ice with open leads (available to the east and west in 2015).

Below, ice thickness map for April 2016, showing slightly better conditions, especially to the east:

Beaufort sea ice thickness_2016 April 6 NRL

The band of thick multiyear ice (~5m thick) was less extensive in April 2016 but still present within the Pagano et al. 2018 study area. Thinner ice to the east and west would have been more attractive to pregnant ringed seals.

Below, ice thickness map for April 2014, showing ice thickness of 2 m or more across the region, which is probably too thick in most places for ringed seals:

Beaufort Sea ice thickness_arcticictnowcast_2014 April 18

Sea ice within the Pagano et al. 2018 study area in April 2014 was not quite as thick as 2015 and 2016 (only 3 – 4.5m thick) but this was probably enough to drive breeding ringed seals away.  Note the lack of openings or areas of thinner ice that would attract seals except very close to shore.

From a 2015 post about Beaufort Sea polynyas, I discussed what marine mammal biologists Ian Stirling and colleagues had to say about polar bears and the effect of the Cape Bathurst polynya on the distribution of polar bears in spring (Stirling et al. 1981:49):

“Polar bears prey mainly upon ringed seals and, to a lesser degree, on bearded seals. Polar bears appear to be more abundant in polynya areas and along shoreleads, probably because the densities of seals are greater and they are more assessable. For example, between March and June in the Beaufort Sea from 1971 through 1975, 87% of the sightings of polar bears were made adjacent to floe edges or in unstable areas of 9/10 or 10/10 ice cover with intermittent patches of young ice. [my bold]

Later, the same authors discussed why these areas of open water can be so important in the Southern Beaufort area (Stirling et al. 1981:54):

“One useful approach is to ask what would happen if the polynya was not there? Obviously this is impossible to evaluate on an experimental basis, but by examining the consequences or natural seasonal variation, some useful insights can be gained. For example, the influence of rapidly changing ice conditions on the availability of open water, and consequently on populations of seals and polar bears, has been observed in the western Arctic. Apparently in response to severe ice conditions in the Beaufort Sea during winter 1973-74, and to a lesser degree in winter 1974-75, numbers of ringed and bearded seals dropped by about 50% and productivity by about 90%. Concomitantly, numbers and productivity of polar bears declined markedly because of the reduction in the abundance of their prey species. …If the shoreleads of the western Arctic or Hudson Bay ceased opening during winter and spring, the effect on marine mammals would be devastating.”[my bold]

FOOTNOTES:

1. The media frenzy was no doubt aided by the fact that the authors made available four videos to the press that were part of their supplementary material.

Images, Video, and Other Media (see them here):

Movie S1

Video from a camera collar on a polar bear (bear #1) while on the sea ice of the Beaufort Sea in April 2014. This video shows an adult female polar bear on April 9, 2014 digging a hole in the sea ice potentially to entice a seal to come up to breath as she proceeds to still-hunt at this location and then pounces through the ice into the water. The video shows her on April 10, 2014 walking on the sea ice and on April 11, 2014 moving a recently caught ringed seal. The video shows her on April 12, 2014 interacting with an adult male polar bear.

Movie S2

Video from a camera collar on a polar bear (bear #4) while on the sea ice of the Beaufort Sea in April 2015. This video shows an adult female polar bear on April 16, 2014 swimming under the sea ice. The video shows her on April 18, 2014 still-hunting and pouncing through the ice into the water. On April 19, 2014, the video shows her still hunting and pouncing through the ice into the water at another location.

Movie S3

Video from a camera collar on a polar bear (bear #5) while on the sea ice of the Beaufort Sea in April 2015. This video shows an adult female polar bear on April 12, 2015 eating the muscle from the remains of an old seal carcass. Later on the same day, she is shown walking on the sea ice.

Movie S4

Video from a camera collar on a polar bear (bear #8) while on the sea ice of the Beaufort Sea in April 2016. This video shows an adult female polar bear on April 10, 2016 catching and eating a ringed seal. The video shows her on April 12, 2016 stalking, running at, and attempting to catch a bearded seal.

Some of the headlines, in no particular order (note the hyperbole):

Polar Bears Really Are Starving Because of Global Warming, Study Shows (National Geographic, February 2018). https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/02/polar-bears-starve-melting-sea-ice-global-warming-study-beaufort-sea-environment/

Polar Bears Burn Calories Faster than Scientists Realized. That’s a Problem (InsideClimateNews, 1 February 2018) https://insideclimatenews.org/news/01022018/polar-bear-survival-video-arctic-sea-ice-loss-metabolism-study-climate-change

Polar bears ‘running out of food’ (BBC, 1 February 2018) http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-42909866

What Scientists Learned From Strapping a Camera to a Polar Bear(The Atlantic, February 2018) https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/what-scientists-learned-from-strapping-a-camera-to-a-polar-bear/552083/

High-tech bear-cams suggest polar bears having tougher time hunting (National Post, Canadian Press, 1 February 2018) http://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/high-tech-cameras-suggest-polar-bears-having-tougher-time-hunting

Polar bears could become extinct faster than was feared, study says (The Guardian, 1 February 2018) https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/01/polar-bears-climate-change

As Arctic sea ice thins, so do polar bears (Chicago Tribune, 1 February 2018) http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/science/ct-polar-bears-climate-change-20180201-story.html

The North’s ‘apex predator’ threatened by receding sea ice in the Beaufort Sea, study says (CBC, 1 February 2018) http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/polar-bear-beaufort-sea-study-1.4515155

Pagano said it would be hard to say how widely these results might apply across the Beaufort Sea.

“How activity patterns and forging success rates might vary between regions and times of year is hard to speculate.”

Other researchers have shown declining polar bear populations across the Beaufort Sea region, but this study wasn’t meant to address questions of overall polar bear decline in the North.

“For this study we’re not looking at trends,” Pagano said.

“There’s no information here or documentation of how our results may relate to historical patterns simply because there isn’t any information, as far as we’re aware, of what the activity levels were of these bears historically.”

Metabolism study signals more trouble ahead for polar bears (Reuters, 1 February 2018) https://www.reuters.com/article/us-science-bears/metabolism-study-signals-more-trouble-ahead-for-polar-bears-idUSKBN1FL6AB

What Cameras on Polar Bears Show Us: It’s Tough Out There (New York Times, 1 February 2018) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/01/climate/polar-bear-cameras.html

Polar bears are wasting away in a changing climate (NATURE, 1 February 2018) https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-01501-8

Polar bears’ bodies work 60% harder than thought — which makes surviving climate change even tougher (LA Times, 1 February 2018) http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-polar-bears-metabolism-20180201-story.html

Polar bears are starving, and this video reveals why (Science Magazine, 1 February 2018) http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/02/polar-bears-are-starving-and-video-reveals-why


REFERENCES

Bromaghin, J.F., McDonald, T.L., Stirling, I., Derocher, A.E., Richardson, E.S., Rehehr, E.V., Douglas, D.C., Durner, G.M., Atwood, T. and Amstrup, S.C. 2015. Polar bear population dynamics in the southern Beaufort Sea during a period of sea ice decline. Ecological Applications 25(3):634-651. http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/14-1129.1

Burns, J.J., Fay, F.H., and Shapiro, L.H. 1975. The relationships of marine mammal distributions, densities, and activities to sea ice conditions (Quarterly report for quarter ending September 30, 1975, projects #248 and 249). In Environmental Assessment of the Alaskan Continental Shelf, Principal Investigators’ Reports, July-September 1975, Volume 1. NOAA Environmental Research Laboratories, Boulder, Colorado. pp. 77-78. Pdf here.

Cherry, S.G., Derocher, A.E., Stirling, I., and Richardson, E.S. 2009.Fasting physiology of polar bears in relation to environmental change and breeding behavior in the Beaufort Sea. Polar Biology 32:383-391. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00300-008-0530-0#page-1

Crockford, S.J. and Geist, V. 2018. Conservation Fiasco. Range Magazine, Winter 2017/2018, pg. 26-27. Pdf here.

Crockford, S.J. 2017. Testing the hypothesis that routine sea ice coverage of 3-5 mkm2 results in a greater than 30% decline in population size of polar bears (Ursus maritimus). PeerJ Preprints 2 March 2017. Doi: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.2737v3 Open access. https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.2737v3

Harwood, L.A., Smith, T.G., George, J.C., Sandstrom, S.J., Walkusz, W. & Divoky, G.J. 2015. Change in the Beaufort Sea ecosystem: Diverging trends in body condition and/or production in five marine vertebrate species. Progress in Oceanography 136:263-273.

Harwood, L.A., Smith, T.G., Melling, H., Alikamik, J. and Kingsley, M.C.S. 2012. Ringed seals and sea ice in Canada’s western Arctic: harvest-based monitoring 1992-2011. Arctic 65:377-390. http://arctic.synergiesprairies.ca/arctic/index.php/arctic/article/view/4236

Pagano, A.M., Durner, G.M., Rode, K.D., Atwood, T.C., Atkinson, S.N., Peacock, E., Costa, D.P., Owen, M.A. and Williams, T.M. 2018.High-energy, high-fat lifestyle challenges an Arctic apex predator, the polar bear. Science 359 (6375): 568 DOI: 10.1126/science.aan8677

Pilfold, N.W., Derocher, A.E., Stirling, I., Richardson, E., and Andriashek, D. 2012. Age and sex composition of seals killed by polar bears in the eastern Beaufort Sea. PLoS ONE 7:e41429. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041429.

Smith, T.G. 1987. The ringed seal, Phoca hispida, of the Canadian Western Arctic. Canadian Bulletin of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 216. Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Ottawa. Google Books link http://tinyurl.com/ppqrf6k

Stirling, I. 2002. Polar bears and seals in the eastern Beaufort Sea and Amundsen Gulf: a synthesis of population trends and ecological relationships over three decades. Arctic 55 (Suppl. 1):59-76. http://arctic.synergiesprairies.ca/arctic/index.php/arctic/issue/view/42

Stirling, I, Cleator, H. and Smith, T.G. 1981. Marine mammals. In: Polynyas in the Canadian Arctic, Stirling, I. and Cleator, H. (eds), pg. 45-58. Canadian Wildlife Service, Occasional Paper No. 45. Ottawa.  Pdf of pertinent excerpts of above papers here.

Stirling, I., Andriashek, D., and Calvert, W. 1993. Habitat preferences of polar bears in the western Canadian Arctic in late winter and spring. Polar Record 29:13-24. http://tinyurl.com/qxt33wj

Whiteman, J.P.  2018. Out of balance in the Arctic. Science 359 (6375):514-515.

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55 thoughts on “Polar bear alarmists double-down on message of future starving bears

  1. So polar bears that didn’t eat lost weight? Wow, not sure I can understand this high level science.
    And of course maybe wearing a collar with a camera on it made hunting harder, or the bears got frustrated and annoyed with it.
    And the sample is so small as to make 5 out of 9 totally meaningless.

    • Phoenix44 – “maybe wearing a collar with a camera on it made hunting harder”
      Yes, let’s explore how these collars impact the bear’s physical abilities and also their psyche. And, how are these collars attached? Are the bears tranquilized so that these collars can be affixed? I know that if a bear hunter happens to bag a bear that had been tranquilized within so many months, the bear meat cannot be eaten. The tranquilizers remain in the bear’s system for months. How do those lingering tranquilizers affect a bear’s behavior?
      So far, all these Environmentalists have shown is that they can expedite the demise of several polar bears.

      • One would hope the bears are tranquilized when the collars are attached otherwise it would be Scientist for Lunch time

      • I won’t get this statistic exactly correct because I read it too long ago but I read that something like 50% of bears in the Eastern Canadian Arctic had been sedated for study an average of 8 times in a period of less than 5 years. How can that be good for them?

      • Bryan A
        February 5, 2018 at 10:09 am
        “One would hope the bears are tranquilized when the collars are attached otherwise it would be Scientist for Lunch time”
        Hmmm.
        Watermelon ‘scientist’?
        I wish them no harm, but poleys are big beasts. Even young females.
        Big males well exceed half a ton/tonne/1000 pounds; and if they wish to eat you, you need to be in South London – or similar, to avoid that. Look at the paws – bigger than dinner plates.
        Don’t feed the poleys. Not even with watermelons.
        Also, don’t feed the trolls.
        Auto in South London.
        No poleys here – although flakes of snow this morning.

    • As I understood it, the ‘scientists’ had nothing from the past to compare their findings to;

      Scientists studying the metabolism of free-ranging polar bears in the Arctic have found out why the loss of sea ice is hurting their survival: They burn calories at a faster rate than previously thought.

      ” . . than thought.” Not, ‘than understood,’ not ‘than previously documented,’ not ‘than we knew;’ just than, ‘they thought.’
      Well, they thought that all the Arctic sea ice would be gone by now and that the polar bear populations would have now been decimated.
      They should stop thinking.

    • “…the sample is so small as to make 5 out of 9 totally meaningless.”
      85% of survey respondents thought that 76% of statistics were made up on the spot.

  2. We really should believe the experts – after all they are the experts – peer reviewed and all. Sarc

    • If you ever learn anything about contracting, you will be taught that there is no trust. That’s what the contract is for.
      So no, don’t trust the experts. They all have a barrow to push, even if it’s just their need for more funding.

      • Hivemind
        Thanks.
        A very important comment thast I – and others, I suggest – need to keep firmly in mind.
        Appreciated.
        Auto

  3. With the exception of house pets, horses, and dairy cows, that are used to human contact, most animals are stressed from the presence of humans. Is it possible that bears that are studied would tend to lose weight just because they are studied? And is a sample of bears that are accessible even a reasonable sample, there may have been bears out on the ice flows that are beefing up?

    • Also, in nature, predator populations expand to the point where successful hunting is difficult. that is the normal state of things. Some years worse than others, some bears worse hunters than others. Populations in equilibrium lose 1 bear for every bear born and raised. Few die of old age. They mostly starve due to injury, illness or pure misfortune.

  4. There is also one other minor detail that you haven’t mentioned Susan.
    More Bears. less prey per Bear, they can become the victim of their success.
    Perhaps that is the reason for so many complaints about bears in general pestering the public for food.

    • good point – The warmists make the argument that the even though the bears are more plentiful, their body weight is less, therefore AGW is already having a negative effect on the polar bear population.
      However, this is common in most all animal populations when there is an overpopulation of the species.
      (I will defer to Crockford on the reasonableness of this concept as it relates to the PB population in its current state)

      • Latitude
        Wow – evolution!
        Those ‘smart enough to figure it out.’ will have cubs.
        Others – less so.
        How did our forebears get out of the Rift Valley – or Eastern Jordan – or a bog in Whateveristan; or wherever H. sapiens actually evolved?
        The brighter ones had better survival/breeding success.
        Multiply across generations. Lots of generations. Four or five or six in a century.
        And – look – it may apply to poleys, too.
        Shock. Horror. Sarc.
        Auto

  5. Making predictions is extremely difficult – especially about the future.
    My observation of the experts predictions – as has become apparent from the Harvey 17 paper
    A) the experts (as detailed in the H17 paper) have reached a near identical prediction of polar bear demise, in spite of the difficulty of making predictions about the future, where as the “non experts” have varying degrees of the potential extent of the polar bear demise.
    B) Its often said that your can create a trend line in any direction from a single data point. In this case, the experts have developed a predicted trend line from just a few data points.
    C) The experts have made predictions without taking into account the possible changes throughout the entire ecological system and instead have concentrated on two narrow points.
    D) The experts have failed to take into account the long term history of the polar bears – the Polar bears did survive through the MWP when the ice levels were of similar levels today and similar levels as predicted through at least 2050 and likely through 2100. The Polar Bears did survive through the Roman warming period when the ice coverage was likely ice free or at least significantly less than is predicted circa 2100.
    E) the experts have take into account factual data that conflicts with their predictions (see crockford’s citations )

  6. CAGW is the very last straw at which leftists can grasp, everything has become so good in the last 50 years, we cleaned up the air and water, made things much much better for women and minorities, and they holler “racism!” even after we had a black man in the white house for 8 years, they have nothing legit to complain about, but they must beat some drum so now they want to tax us for the weather, it is so cynical, hard to imagine, it is laughable.

  7. They were studying one small group trying to survive in an area that has poor conditions for their hunting, showing that they were struggling, and then drawing conclusions about that for the entire species?
    Isn’t that a little bit like studying a small village in drought-stricken Africa and drawing conclusions about how well fed all humans on Earth are?

  8. Back when we had several marine fish tagging programs going we needed to at least recognize if the tagging methods or just that tags themselves affected mortality rates. I found one series of studies done on the African plains on antelope tagging (I believe the author was named Jones). They believed that their tagged antelopes had a higher mortality rate than untagged antelopes and tried to prove their null hypothesis. They were using tranquilizers to capture animals. Indeed the mortality rate of tagged animals was higher. Yet it turned out that it wasn’t the tags they were using but the tranquilizers that increased the mortality. The drugs used apparently still affected the animals for hours even days after they seemed to recover whether the animal was tagged or not. Predators picked up on that slight difference in behavior.

  9. After all the hype about global warming killing polar bears because there’s not enough sea ice (the famous photo of the polar bear clinging to an ice floe in the middle of open water), now we find out that some polar bears are starving because there’s TOO MUCH sea ice for the bears to dig through and eat seals.
    So is sea ice good or bad for polar bears, or for seals? If what’s good for the polar bears is bad for the seals, and vice versa, which should we prefer? Or should we care at all, and let polar bears and seals deal with sea ice and each other without human interference?

  10. I don’t understand this study at all. Megafauna have a tough time as it is, without a bunch of self-important pencil pushers inserting themselves into the scene.
    And why aren’t these people studying the dire wolf, anyway? Now, there’s an apex predator for you! Why aren’t they spending some time with the short-faced cave bears?
    These people are a bunch of control freaks who are in need of counseling for their problem: It appears that they really don’t have any understanding of wild critters at all.

  11. What I find very worrying — and the current plight of several polar bears is just one example — is the extent to which environmental science is being perverted in order to further an agenda. Worse still is that the scientists involved may well not be doing this deliberately but that we have reached a point where anything Crockford says about polar bears (or Mörner says about sea level) *must* be wrong and therefore needs to be rebutted immediately in case the general public or the media get hold of what is now called “fake news”, because after all we *know* that polar bears are suffering because of climate change because our models tell us so and we *know* sea level rise is major threat because, again, our models tell us so.
    There is going to come a “eureka” moment for some of these people when they wake up and realise that the effort they have been putting into proving something is not working out because that something just ain’t so! I look forward to that day but I fear this is precious little we can do to hurry it along, bar keeping on chipping away on sites like this!

    • No, no, no, the problem isn’t that AGW isn’t happening – the problem is that they aren’t communicating it well-enough to us thick deplorables. It’s not the facts, its the messaging. Hence all the concentration on Climate Science Communication. If we’d just finally get the message, we’d grovel at their feet and thank them for svaing our Earth.

      • Skeptical Science website emphasis has shifted completely to a Sci-Fi and social science website –
        alternating between how to convince deniers and sci-fi with science such as sea level rise of 10ft by end of this century.

    • “…have reached a point where anything … *must* be wrong and therefore needs to be rebutted immediately…”
      I don’t think that’s it. More correctly, that you can only get grant money by pushing the CAGW barrow. To prove that your next paper will keep to the narrative, your previous papers must also keep to the narrative. It isn’t just the “researchers” that do this the journal editors also do it. Remember the climategate e-mails, where they discussed how to force the journals to go along with their fraud.

  12. Wow! I mean wow! The science here is questionable, but the reporting of the science is outrageously wrong! Susan is either too kind or a little confused when she says: “,,,(note the hyperbole):” Hyperbole is defined as: “exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.” The headlines presented are not mere exaggerations, and they are definitely meant to be taken seriously. The headlines are not hyperbole at all. They are complete propaganda with no resemblance to the truth or even the poorly-done science!
    Furthermore, these headlines are not from Mother Jones or The Nation, but from media outlets that are thought to be respectable and dependable news sources by the majority of the population!
    Thomas Jefferson said “The only security of all is in a free press.” This is true. It is also true that we no longer have that security, because ‘the press’ is no longer free. It is thoroughly enslaved by a doom and gloom paradigm created and promoted by the radical left. Some might say that it is starting to look like the Orwellian nightmare. But I believe the nightmare is already here, and we are being cast in the role of Goldstein.

  13. For readers that have not heard the news, Susan has a method to buy her a virtual beer on her blog now. If you get a chance, head over to her site and buy her a beer. Better yet, a round for the entire office.

      • To all who have chipped in for a few virtual beers, I have contacted you all individually but here’s a public thank you for your support.
        It is much appreciated. The funds will allow me to continue to push back against the Harvey cabal and their supporters who want to silence me and stifle the progress of science.
        Susan Crockford, PolarBearScience

  14. Its really the researchers who are killing the bears by putting those ridiculous collars on them.
    Like the penguins who were banded on their wings and later couldn’t swim at enough speed to catch their food.

    • Bill, It’s like the German research ice breaker going all over the place breaking up ice in their IGY (international geophysical year) studies of the arctic for a couple of years a decade ago.

    • I can’t see if there is any descriptor of gender or age for these bears. Or when the previous weight was taken. I assume that female bears give birth in early spring and then give milk to their fast growing young. So their minimum weight would be in spring after they emerge from the den. Also. younger bears are presumably growing while aged bears are probably not. How can they get decent correlative data from a sample of 9?
      Garbage science.

      • They were all female bears.
        “We measured the FMRs (field metabolic rates) of female polar bears (n = 9) during April 2014–2016 in the Beaufort Sea (Fig. 1A) over 8 to 11 days each year using doubly labeled water (DLW) (supplementary materials) (19).”

  15. There are 5 populations of ringed seals, and their numbers are unknown in total.
    ……. Is it possible that a reduction of seals as a result of overfishing or other factors unrelated to “ClimateChange” is impacting polar bear populations?
    Remove the bear’s food, and they might get skinny.

  16. Poor Susan having to wade through all all that trash looking for something that might be of value.
    James Bull

  17. Excellent work Susan.
    When I saw the headlines and media hype that research and then read how much actual data was lacking to show why it might be difficult for bears to catch seals despite adequate sea ice, I was disgusted by their fear mongering, fear mongering that has replaced solid science. If you did not do this report I was ready to write something similar.
    Keep up your great work presenting objective scientific analyses. It should be no surprise that so many websites eager to understand the truth about polar bears would link to your website!

    • Thanks Jim.
      Astonishing that such evidence for a thick spring ice event (2014-2016) is right on time, ten years after the 2004-2006 event.
      Looks like the Southern Beaufort is not such a great place to live for polar bears, at least some of the time.

  18. “Polar bears appear to be well adapted to the extreme conditions of their Arctic habitat. Pagano et al., however, show that the energy balance in this harsh environment is narrower than we might expect (see the Perspective by Whiteman). They monitored the behavior and metabolic rates of nine free-ranging polar bears over 2 years. They found that high energy demands required consumption of high-fat prey, such as seals, which are easy to come by on sea ice but nearly unavailable in ice-free conditions. Thus, as sea ice becomes increasingly short-lived annually, polar bears are likely to experience increasingly stressful conditions and higher mortality rates.”

    Interesting study with logical fallacies.
    Easy to see, if one wishes.
    Sea ice does become increasingly short lived annually, every year in fact.
    Polar bears somehow get through each annual shrinkage, have kids and get ready for the next years annual increase.
    All without wasting energy.
    If I had a chocolate milkshake, giant fries and a fatty meal every time I ate I would probably decide, if I wanted to keep living, that I would have to have a high energy lifestyle to keep the balance.
    Nature is wonderful, and adaptive.
    Ah well, off to the gym!

  19. “This video shows an adult female polar bear on April 9, 2014 digging a hole in the sea ice potentially to entice a seal to come up to breathe”.
    great technique.
    Makes me wonder how long a seal can hold it’s breath for and what else conveniently causes holes in the sea ice for them?

  20. “Polar Bears Burn Calories Faster than Scientists Realized. That’s a Problem”
    I believe this. The Scientists realize things a lot slower than was thought.

  21. At the Super Bowl party last night the menu was Eagle wings in buffalo hot sauce, baby seals, polar bear cubs, and whale meat. After the game I was served crow with a side of Spam!
    For breakfast I had leftover crow, roadkill, potted meat, and a good cup of flat beer. lol

  22. “Using video collar data, we documented bears’ hunting behavior and foraging success. Bears used sit-and-wait tactics to hunt seals 90% of the time, and stalking comprised the remaining 10% of hunts (movies S1 to S4) (19). Bears that successfully killed and ate adult or subadult ringed seals either gained or maintained body mass, whereas bears that only scavenged or showed no evidence of eating lost mass”

    Assumptions and absurd conclusions from the same inbred “Earth and polar bear are doomed” crowd!
    The first part that struck me, is their 90% ambush hunt (not still hunt as the researchers claim) – 10% active hunt mode.
    All too often, predator’s hunt attempts fail.
    In spite of the researchers desperately trying to spin thin ice into their polar bear theory, what stands out are polar bear hunts lack of success rate is what actually drives killed/ate prey versus scavenge or even starve.
    The next part is that these researchers try to spin their pre-chosen solutions from a few pieces of chaff.
    So few polar bears are actually studied…
    Utter reliance on a few videos…
    Opinions and subjective conclusions filling in the missing pieces…
    One suspects that there are research results these researchers fail to include or purposely exclude.
    You demonstrate an amazing level of tolerance, Dr. Crockford!
    This 5of9 research is surely more fetid and foul than any polar bear or seal scat, could ever achieve.
    N.B.
    “Still hunting” can be hunting from a stationary position; e.g. standing, sitting, laying down.
    “Still hunting” is also used to describe hunting where the hunter moves slowly, with frequent pauses and stops. “Still” is a reference to “still of the wild” where a predator does not make noise or activity alien to the environment they are operating within.
    Ambush hunting is where the predator waits, sometimes interminably, next to a prey’s path, food, den; until the prey is within reach.
    Stalking is where a predator follows prey, by scent or sight, until a kill opportunity presents itself.
    Ambush hunting is a form of still hunting.
    Scavenging is a form of stalking, where the predator follows carrion scent.
    These alleged polar bear researchers scramble hunting terms to fit their preconceptions and misinformation.

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