Polynyas are Vital for Polar Bear Spring Feeding – ?

From Polar Bear Science

Dr. Susan Crockford

Areas of open water or skinny ice in spring are important for the survival of Arctic species, as I emphasised in my latest peer-reviewed paper on polar bear ecology. Sea ice remains to be plentiful in spring (April-June), which is the essential feeding interval for polar bears: they need to devour about 2/3 of the full energy they want for the complete 12 months. Most of these energy come from new child seals (ringed, bearded, and harp).

In southern areas, akin to Hudson Bay and Davis Strait, nearly all of this feeding is accomplished by the tip of Could, making June a time of opportunistic trying to find most bears: in the event that they discover a seal, they’ll kill and eat it but when not, they’ll do with out. That’s not simply my opinion however the motive given by polar bear specialists themselves to clarify why Southern Hudson Bay polar bear numbers had not declined within the 2000s regardless of a sudden enhance within the ice-free season:

…though break-up has superior by as much as 3-4 weeks in parts of Hudson Bay it nonetheless happens no sooner than late June or early July so doesn’t but intervene with alternatives to feed on neonate ringed seal pups which might be born in March-April in japanese Hudson Bay. Due to this fact, shedding days or perhaps weeks of searching alternatives throughout June and July deprives polar bears of the chance to feed on grownup seals, however doesn’t deprive them of the essential spring interval when they’re really hyperphagic. [Obbard et al. 2016:29]

Polynyas worldwide

From my paper, with out the labels (Crockford 2022, open entry). Some polynyas, like the large space off Siberia, aren’t usually really open water however areas of skinny ice that seals and bears can break by means of simply. Due to that, they’re usually troublesome to identify on sea ice charts.

Sea ice at mid-Could

Canada (15 Could 2022)

Arctic as a complete (15 Could 2022)

Closeups by area (13 Could 2022)

Bering/Chukchi/Beaufort (13 Could 2022)

Barents/Kara Seas (13 Could 2022)

Canadian East Coast/Western Greenland (13 Could 2022)


Crockford, S. J. 2022. Polar bear fossil and archaeological data from the Pleistocene and Holocene in relation to sea ice extent and open water polynyas. Open Quaternary 8(7): 1-26.

Obbard, M.E., Cattet, M.R.I., Howe, E.J., Middel, Ok.R., Newton, E.J., Kolenosky, G.B., Abraham, Ok.F. and Greenwood, C.J. 2016. Tendencies in physique situation in polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from the Southern Hudson Bay subpopulation in relation to modifications in sea ice. Arctic Science 2(1):15-32.

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