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Video Collars Provide Polar Bears’ Point Of View

By | June 6, 2014

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey are using new video collars to get a glimpse into the daily life of polar bears.

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Researchers have been using radio and GPS collars since the 1980s to track polar bears’ movements along the Arctic sea ice. But, that data lacks a lot of contextual and observational information that allows for a better understanding of the bears.

Anthony Pagano, a research biologist with USGS, says these new collars were deployed in April on four female bears along the sea ice north of Prudhoe Bay.

“We can start to get a much more in-depth understanding of how bears are using these different habitats,” he said. “Potentially how often they’re eating, and get an understanding of how much time they spend walking, how much time they spend swimming, how much time they spend resting – which is information we really don’t have that much knowledge about now.”

Pagano hopes the new information will allow researchers to gain a better understanding of how polar bear behaviors might change with different sea ice conditions and other environmental patterns.

The cameras were on the bears for a little over a week and gathered between 30 and 40 hours of footage each, which scientists are still sorting through.

Clips released by the USGS show bears swimming under the sea ice, eating a seal, and interacting with potential mates.

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