More polar bear videos – the cost of finding food

September 8, 2015— Frontier Scientists presents new videos Polar bear swims 400 miles and What makes a polar bear? Also, explore our new site updated with a brand new look and better features: more mobile friendly, same url at

Anthony Pagano, research zoologist with the U.S. Geological Survey – Alaska Science Center, talks about attaching small electronic devices called accelerometers to polar bear collars to measure changes in motion. Accelerometers help decode the behaviors of wild polar bears.

“Because it’s recording at such a high frequency it’s basically able to capture all the small changes in body motion that an animal is making.” ~ Anthony Pagano

George Durner, research zoologist with the U.S. Geological Survey – Alaska Science Center, describes data showing that one polar bear swam 400 miles. Because of declines in sea ice, bears that swim between land and ice are now forced to swim further distances than they did prior to 1997.

“How much does it cost a bear to swim? And how does that compare to what it costs a bear to walk?” ~ George Durner

Todd Atwood, research biologist and project leader for the polar bear research program at the U.S. Geological Survey – Alaska Science Center, discusses the two subpopulations of polar bears in Alaska, which are responding differently to sea ice loss. Polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea have exhibited reduced body condition and survival during years of reduced sea ice whereas Chukchi Sea polar bears have maintained body condition and cub survival despite similar declines in sea ice.

“In the southern Beaufort Sea over the last 10-15 years we’ve seen sea ice retract further and further away each summer from the continental shelf. And what that is doing is rendering the shelf habitat functionally absent because there is no sea ice to hunt seals over.” ~ Todd Atwood

Karyn Rode, research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey – Alaska Science Center, notes that polar bears have adapted to their sea ice environment and to eating fat-rich seals. She investigates feeding behavior of polar bears and how polar bear feeding behavior relates to their reproduction and survival.

“What are the implications of what they are getting to eat on their body condition?” … “They need the sea ice to access the food.” ~ Karyn Rode

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