Polar Bears Film Their Own Sea Ice World
This video showcases the latest polar bear point-of-view footage to date along with an interview of the research scientist who is responsible for the project. Released in conjunction with a new scientific study led by the USGS.
Location Taken: Southern Beaufort Sea, AK, US
Polar Bear Footage: Anthony Pagano, et. al.
Interview Footage: Rex Sanders
Producer/Editor: Ryan McClymont
Producer: Paul Laustsen
(Ice crunching, polar bear growling)
My name is Anthony Pagano, I’m a research wildlife Biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. The research I do is working on Polar Bears, studying polar bear energy expenditure, behaviors, and foraging success on the sea ice.
This is in the spring where temperatures can get down to negative 20, negative 30 degrees Celsius, so it’s pretty inhospitable, it’d be almost impossible for a researcher to be out on the sea ice in those conditions for an extended period of time.
There’s very little information that exists on the basic behaviors of these animals on the sea ice and so the video camera collars actually provide us actual insight into what the bears are doing on the sea ice, what their typical activity patterns are, how active they are on the sea ice, how often they are actually catching seals, how often they are actually spending on trying to catch seals and how often they’re actually encountering other bears and other behaviors that they might exhibit on the sea ice, that for us as researchers we have very few opportunities to actually see.
Polar bears spend a lot of time resting, they are a large carnivore and they have a pretty high energy demand and they’re a sit and wait predator, they’re an ambush predator, so typically they locate an area where they expect a seal to be in the area using a breathing hole and they’ll either stand by that breathing hole, or they’ll lay down by that breathing hole, or sit by that breathing hole and they’ll basically just rest in that area and it can be for minutes, to hours, to almost half a day they’ll stay in that same area and wait for a seal to come up to breath and if it does then they’ll attempt to catch it and eat it.
So it’s really quite fascinating to learn the basic behaviors of these animals and how they are using the sea ice environment and how dynamic the sea ice environment is and how they’re behavior might change from year to year based on the sea ice conditions that they are experiencing.