A polar bear swims to catch a beluga whale along the coast of Hudson Bay near Churchill on August 9, 2022.
Polar bear conservation nonprofit Polar Bears International is currently tracking and filming polar bears near Churchill, Canada. The Arctic bears have gathered there to wait for sea ice to form at Hudson Bay, which will make it possible for them to hunt their favorite meal: seals.
There’s a livestream of these beautiful bears waiting for the ice, which you can check in on below.
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There are about 36,000 polar bears in the wild, with 20 distinct groups (one discovered just this year) being monitored by researchers. For polar bears to survive in extremely cold conditions and to reproduce, they need to eat an abundance of fat. It’s like being on a permanent keto diet. They mainly hunt and eat ringed and bearded seals, but this isn’t possible if there isn’t an abundance of sea ice for the bears to hunt on. As the climate crisis is shifting weather patterns and contributing to factors like warmer temperatures in the Arctic, regions in the great white north are seeing less sea ice. Less ice means that the polar bears must travel longer distances in hopes of finding enough food for the long winters.
This is especially alarming for bears in Northeast Canada. The bears in the Western Hudson Bay area are predicted to become one of the first groups of polar bears at risk of disappearing due to climate change. Their numbers have decreased by 30% since the 1980s, according to PBI.
Alysa McCall, a staff scientist and the director of conservation at PBI, explained that polar bears are a critical example of how a changing climate can increase human-wildlife conflict in the Arctic. This happens all over the world as natural habitats disappear, driving desperate animals to unusual behaviors. In Canada, it means that polar bears are going hungry and looking for food in human trash cans, increasingly coming into contact with people.
“The ice-free period is about three to four weeks longer than it used to be in the 1980s already. And what this translates to is less time hunting for polar bears and less…