Coming To A Beach Near You: Polar Bear Swims 426 Miles

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Their shrinking ice floe habitat under constant assault by climate change, polar bears are taking to the water to preserve their species.  One female swam the equivalent distance between Boston and Washington D.C. in an effort to find more suitable habitat. The migration has caused a sad side-effect, as according to study author, George Durner, a USGS research zoologist, “Bears that engaged in long-distance swimming were more likely to experience cub loss.” Five of eleven polar bears that made these swims lost their cubs in the process.

Scientists have been tracking mother polar bears since 2004 by means of collar data collectors, but recently they noticed mysterious gaps in their data. Subsequent inquiry determined that these  gaps were caused by the bears’ swims in the icy water.  GPS data was then examined on 50 of the female bears to verify the swims of more than 30 miles.

Though constant for decades, summer sea ice has been shrinking constantly since 1995. In 2010, sea ice coverage was at the third lowest figure since data started being collected, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.  There is no evidence to suggest polar bears made these incredible survival swims before the effects of global warming became so dire. “We’re pretty sure that these animals didn’t have to do these long swims before, because 687-kilometer stretches of open water didn’t occur very often in the evolutionary history of the polar bear,” said study co-author Steven Amstrupp, chief scientist for the conservation group Polar Bears International.

The bears seemed to have arrived at consensus on the issue of climate change, risking their cubs in the process, even as their more evolved counterparts on land continue to wrestle with the phenomenon. Perhaps the bears can lead the way.

Source: National Geographic News

~ Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

29 thoughts on “Coming To A Beach Near You: Polar Bear Swims 426 Miles”

  1. NOAA: Kill the sea lions, save the salmon

    PORTLAND, Ore. — A federal agency is recommending the killing of as many as 30 sea lions a year at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, where they gather each year to eat migrating spring chinook salmon.

    The recommendation from NOAA Marine Fisheries was one of four options, ranging from no action at all to killing many more of the sea lions that prey on salmon. Sea lions and many Columbia River spring salmon runs are protected by federal laws.

    The agency will take public comment through Feb. 19.

    The alternatives are in a draft environmental assessment issued in response to requests from Oregon, Washington and Idaho to kill predatory sea lions as a means of preserving dwindling salmon runs.

    Sea lions have been feasting on salmon below the Bonneville Dam for years, and they get smarter every year. One was even caught on camera climbing the fish ladder.

    Maybe the Polar Bears are getting smarter too. Which incidentally there are quite a few more polar bears than there were 50 years ago.

  2. mespo727272,

    Good comments.

    Lets hope the treatment works for the deniers who are incapable of handling the fear of death which animates their discourse bathed in denial.

    “Around 55 million years ago”

    That is downstream from the KT extinction event 65 million years ago, which destroyed about 90% of land life (half of all species in air, land, and sea).

    Thus, “the poles were then free of ice” then is not coherent absent the added facts that the earth had not recovered yet from the KT extinction event.

    Just sayin’ … the deniers do not then to put the entire puzzle before us as you have labored to do.


  3. For most of the Earth’s history there hasn’t been ice at the poles.

    ~Paul Ogden

    “The last time scientists can be certain the pole was awash in water was more than 50 million years ago.”


    “The Eocene was the geological period when the world’s climate grew significantly warmer. Around 55 million years ago, according to sedimentary and fossil evidence, tropical vegetation spread inside the Arctic and Antarctic circles. Water and jungles dominated the polar environments, and in the generally warm world, mammals for the first time grew in number, size and diversity.

    ~New York Times

    Humans have been around for about 200,000 years.

  4. The anti-climate change crowd’s “changing” arguments abut climate change:

    It’s not real.
    If it’s real, it’s no big deal.
    If it’s real and a big deal, it’s not caused by man’s polution.
    If it’s real and a big deal and caused by man’s polution, there’s nothing we can do about it.
    If it’s real and a big deal and caused by man’s polution and there is something we can do about it, nobody can make me because it’s intrudes on my freedom to do as I wish, you environmentalist wacko.

    Self-centered and self-defeating irresponsibility at it’s finest.

  5. Welcome to the Sixth Mass Extinction. The ice melts, the bears become endangered or extinct, then civilization does the same.

    There will be lots of weeping people on the streets of despair swearing and praying for it to go away, like environmentalists tried to do long ago.

    But sadly, it will be way, way too late.

  6. Frank1, July 24, 2011 at 5:15 pm
    Thank YOU Frank!!!!!!!

    Truth to power is not easy, truth to idiots is truly risky and altruistic.

  7. Yes, and for most of the earths history humans didn’t exist either. We could worry about an ice age if we were altering the climate to cause one but we are not. We are however, quiet demonstrably causing the world to get warmer. And that old bullshit about how this will benefit mankind is also without any scientific support.

    The last European ice age happened because the oceans warmed enough to disrupt the Gulf Stream. Without its warming affect Europe froze. Then you can add the destruction of flora and fauna people currently count on. That loss will also have great impact on people. Then new disease vectors. And then the increased atmospheric moisture and energy causing larger storms.

    The only people who have tried to politicize the science have been the deniers. Those who first said “ain’t happenin” then said “maybe but it ain’t humans” and now want to pretend it will actually make things better. They all are ignoring the actual science, selecting bought and paid for crap, intentionally misrepresenting actual studies and telling fairy tales about how much better the world will be when we completely screw up the environment.

  8. You want to worry about something, worry about an ice age. That would have a cataclysmic impact on mankind…far, far more than a warmer climate which actually would benefit man.

  9. For most of the Earth’s history there hasn’t been ice at the poles. The climate has changed for 4.5 billion years. It’s been warmer than today…there have been higher CO2 levels in the atmostophere than today…all before the issue of burning fossil fuels. If you study the Earth’s history it is one of constantly zig-zagging temperatures, zigs and zags that last hundreds of years. Although there are hundreds of thosuands of years of temperature data available, the man is causing dangerous global warming crowd refuses to look at that data, instead only using the last 140 years which is fed into computer to produce the scary unending temperature climbs. It’s dishonest, politicized science. And let’s not even get into the fact that that global warming crowd never makes the case that today’s temperature is somehow the ideal temperature for mankind. Indeed if you study history, you’ll find that man does better in warmer climates, including a climate warmer than today.

  10. I know ,in your tiny mind at least, that the fate of any creature that is not a white Christian American male is insignificant; so for you, mikey, no reason at all.

    Coal miners used to take small birds down into the mines with them because they would die from the poison air sooner than the miners would. That gave them time to get the hell out of the mine. You, on the other hand, would have forced them to stay down in the mine because those birds just aren’t really important, not worth paying any attention to.

  11. It is my understanding that the “Equator” is actually slowly shifting…

    Continent & Equator: Between the Possible Earth Events, and Social Economic impacts, and predicted Future Maps, some consideration should be given to what continent you might choose for your community location. The choice of continent along with the actual degree of geographic pole shift will determine whether you are going to be closer to the poles or closer to the new equator.


    Great post….something that I have been aware of since the mid 80’s…

  12. Thank you for the terrific article.

    The more I watch these marvelous creatures simply try to survive, the less impressed I am by the primates at the top of the food chain, 30′ from a refrigerator door.

  13. Great story Mark. And a sad one. Can’t the global warming deniers see past their dollar bill and recoginze how it will soon affect them and their families, if it isn’t already?

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