Polar bears in the Arctic struggle more and more to get a good meal. Sea ice is declining because of climate change, forcing polar bears to retreat to land, away from their main prey of seals.
Then a dead sperm whale appeared on a beach in Svaldbard, Norway, providing a well-needed meal for the bears. This majestic scene was captured by wildlife film-maker Jeff Wilson who was in the area directing the Disney nature film Polar Bear.
Wilson explained that when there’s enough food, there’s little competition between the bears. That’s when you get really interesting interactions. It was just a whole bunch of bears happy in their own skin, playing with one another.
And this sperm whale may have been feeding bears for two years. It has re-appeared after winter ended and the ice melted. We believe there’s about 3 billion calories in a sperm whale.
While this plentiful meal can satiate the polar bears for now, their population is still at risk. Their future is very bleak, said Wilson. Solutions depend on humanity shifting its lifestyle and energy consumption if polar bears are to have any chance at all.
Polar bears live for about 25 to 30 years and weigh a whopping 900 to 1,600 pounds.
They live in the Arctic and are extremely good swimmers. In fact, some were spotted swimming hundreds of miles from land, sometimes using sheets of ice as a floating device.
Because of their freezing habitat, they rely on their thick fur coats and layers of fat to keep them warm. Even the bottom of their paws have fur to protect from the cold and help them grip ice.
While they are known for their stark white coat that blends into their snowy environment, the skin underneath is black to attract the warmth from the sun.
As far as food goes, polar bears mostly prey on seals, frequenting areas of ice where seals may surface for air. But they would also eat carcasses, like dead whales in this case.
These bears are the top of the food chain with no natural enemies. They don’t typically fear people, making those kinds of encounters extremely dangerous.
The Premier Daily / Crickey Conservation Society 2022.