Science Art-Nature presents Challenges of Climate Change

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Topic: Food Shortages / Habitat Loss (Winter)
Linda Besse Ice Bear

Historically, polar bears have conducted winter hunting from sea ice, capturing fat-rich seals. With the loss of sea ice to warming oceans, however, they have a much harder time fattening up for the long summer. There is a ray of hope, though: Hudson Bay, where the bears have learned to hunt beluga whales entering the bay from spring through fall. Using the 14-foot tidal change, polar bears will climb the glacial erratics and leap onto the whales as they come into shallow water. Many summer and fall bears walk around with a full belly that will reduce the stress of the winter hunting season.

While the Hudson Bay polar bears can rely on beluga whales, many Arctic regions lack alternative high-fat prey. How will the bears adapt in those regions? *

Linda Besse   Mead, WA USA

Title:   Ice Bear

Species:   Polar bear (Ursus maritimus)
Date:   2019
Medium:   Oil on Canvas
Dimensions:   55.9cm X 91.5cm (22" X 36")
Possibly available for online display; Available for purchase


* One of Earth's most magnificent animals, the polar bear is a relatively new addition. According to a July 2019 article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, brown bears and polar bears diverged less than 500,000 years ago. This split, spurred by environmental conditions, has left the polar bear uniquely suited for Arctic regions where adaptations have included adopting black skin and white hollow fur for warmth and becoming a particularly good swimmer nourished by an extremely high-fat diet.