Video Shows How Polar Bears See the World

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The first point of view video from a polar bear in the Arctic shows what the world looks like from the bear's perspective, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

USGS scientists obtained the footage from cameras that were attached to the collars of four female polar bears on the Arctic sea ice north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

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"We deployed two video cameras in 2013, but did not get any footage because the batteries weren't able to handle the Arctic temperatures," Todd Atwood, research leader for the USGS Polar Bear Research Program, said. "We used different cameras this year, and we are thrilled to see that the new cameras worked."

The cameras recorded two polar bears that seem to be checking each other out pre-mating. They also captured a bloody seal meal, including how bears solve what must be a common problem in Polar Regions: what to do when your dinner freezes into a rock hard block. The answer to that and more is in the following:

The collars came off after 8-10 days, so the video only shows a snippet of what goes on in the bears' lives. But the researchers are still studying the footage, hoping to learn more about how often the bears hunt, eat, rest, walk and swim, and how the behaviors might be affected by sea ice conditions and other variables.

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The research is part of the ongoing USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative. It's also relevant to a Polar Bear Conservation Management Plan, now being drafted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Polar Bear Recovery Team (which includes the USGS).

The plan, when finalized, will guide activities for polar bear conservation. Other studies have already concluded that continued loss of sea ice habitat due to global climate change is really hurting the bears.

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For example, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species holds that polar bear populations have dropped by more than 30 percent within just three generations (45 years) due to the habitat decline. Some animal experts even predict that polar bears could become extinct within 100 years.

Our world is changing very quickly. Future generations might look at the recorded footage, remembering what once was. But hopefully the new plan can be finalized, take effect and be enforced soon, saving these majestic animals of the Arctic.

Photo: A swimming polar bear. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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