Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Polar Bears on the Hudson Bay--Part 2

After a rest and a great big stretch, the mother bear decided it was time to move around a bit.  (Part 1 can be found here.)

She strolled along the shore of the wetland, investigating and foraging, activity that helps to pass the time and relieve boredom.  
Polar Bears will eat vegetation and kelp when they find it, but scientists believe that these foods hold no nutritional value and that the activity functions to relieve boredom more than anything else.

The cubs were checking things out on the ground around them, as well, and took their time about following the female. She pauses, above, while they catch up.
It is well publicized that the sea ice in the artic region is declining and that this is having an impact on the ecosystem in the circumpolar artic. Polar Bears rely heavily on the sea ice for hunting, living, resting and breeding.
A November 2014 report published in by Ecological Applications/Ecological Society of America, revealed that the Polar Bear population in northeast Alaska and the Northwest Territories has declined by 40%, a reduction from 1500 to 900 bears between 2001-2010.
In this amazingly harsh environment, the sea ice provides an entire ecosystem inhabited by plankton and micro-organisms that nourish seals and other marine wildlife, that in turn, furnish the food needed by Polar Bears.  Polar Bears rely heavily on the blubber found in seals to store their own body's blubber, fat deposits under the skin that nourish them in lean times and insulate them from the cold.  

Next to the images of the mother bear with her cubs, I enjoyed seeing this adult bear's behavior as she casually foraged and chewed the grasses she pulled up.  As I considered the harsh environment she thrives in, a summer and fall of fasting, her lone responsibility for the safety and feeding of her cubs, and her eventual return to the sea ice to hunt, she seemed serene here, as if content to rest, chew and investigate.
Polar Bears have the ability to slow down their metabolism to accommodate this seasonal fasting period while access to their primary food source is unavailable.

Her two cubs were busy investigating, too.
One of them found what appeared to be the wing of a bird, possibly left over from a fox kill. The cub picked it up and carried it as he moved forward to rejoin his mother.
This is the twelfth post in a series on my journey to Churchill, Manitoba, to see Polar Bears including a visit to Riding Mountain National Park.  Click the journey to Churchill link to see all the posts.  The most recent post will appear first.  When you reach the end of the page, click "older post" to continue with the series.

Next:  A Dog Sled Experience

Visit my sketchbook page on Polar Bears
Click here for Part 1--Polar Bears on the Hudson Bay
Link to my Polar Bear video
Ecological Society of America
Ecological Applications report of decline of Polar Bears
Hudson Bay Buggies and Bears with Rail Travel Tours
Learn about Polar Bears
Hudson Bay
Eskimo Museum
History of Churchill from Churchill Science
Churchill History
the impact of sea ice decline

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Your Uncapped Creativity...

Your Uncapped Creativity...
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action; and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. You must keep that channel open. It is not for you to determine how good it is, nor how valuable. Nor how it compares with other expressions. It is for you to keep it yours, clearly and directly." ----the great dancer, Martha Graham