Live peek at annual polar bear migration

When it comes to “live cams” focusing on animal life, some of us are biased in favor of the natural sights – and sounds – shared by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Heron cam.

But that’s largely a spring/summer event. What are nature aficionados to watch, like, right now? And, hey, does it always have to be about birds, or cuddly zoo animals?

Migrating polar bears near Churchill, Manitoba. Photo: Valerie, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Migrating polar bears near Churchill, Manitoba. Photo: Valerie, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

No worries. Smithsonian Magazine put it this way “Move Over Panda Cam, it’s Time for the Polar Bear Migration.”  (Of course you can stick with the Panda Cam too, though I find the cage and bars off-putting. It’s much more fun to see animals living free.)

Most of the press accounts on the polar bear cam came out last week, as with this from the CBC, so I’m a little late bringing this to readers’ attention. But the polar bears will be doing their thing there for a few more weeks at least. Some folks are capturing and sharing screen shots on Twitter.

This particular camera set-up captures sights of the annual polar bear migration along the shores of Hudson Bay, not far from Churchill, in northern Manitoba. (The town makes hay off this type of nature watching, because you work with what ya got, basically.)

Here’s how ABC described the annual animal migration:

Welcome to the “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” where each year, this town of 800 gets overtaken with 1,200 pound bears making their way from the northern woodlands of Canada to the frozen Hudson Bay in search of seals.

In the purest sense, Churchill is like no other place on earth. Polar bears need a high-protein, high-fat diet in order to survive arctic conditions. (Side note: There are NO polar bears in Antarctica. The worldwide population of between 20,000 to 25,000 lives entirely in the five arctic countries; Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Norway, Russia, and the United States.) In order for the bears to build up 4.5 inches of fur, blubber and hide, they primarily hunt seals that swim near the annual ice masses that form around the Arctic Circle. For Canadian polar bears, Churchill is like the entrance to an arctic buffet line. The geography of the land provides late fall ice along the shore, giving these bears direct access to the food they need.

The polar bear camera is located in Wapusk National Park and is sponsored by, Polar Bears International and Frontiers North Adventures.


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6 Comments on “Live peek at annual polar bear migration”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    Leave the polar bears alone.
    Or, if you feel lucky, bother them on foot with nothing but a camera.

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  2. Ken Hall says:

    Much ballyhoo has been made over the “veritable” Polar Bear population explosion in the last 40 years subsequent to the hunting moratorium enacted in 1973 to the point that current thinking is that the population is now at an energy balanced stabilized number. For an alternative view, not widely disseminated, take a glance at this article

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  3. Two Cents says:

    I saw a show last night about a hunter who thought he legally shot a polar bear, the bear turned out to be a hybrid brow/polar. browns can have two and three cubs as the polar bear.
    interesting program. irony is if the bear had not been shot, would it have been discovered? if it wasn’t shot could it make more of it’s self? are there more!
    one scientist speculated that maybe evolutionary branch-off of species may infact allow for a re-connection.

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  4. Two Cents says:

    **brown, not brow!!

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  5. Dan Murphy says:

    I spent one year working just east of Barrow, Alaska.

    One day I was lucky enough to get to see a polar bear in the wild, coming in off the sea ice in the spring.

    I was shocked that it didnt have a can of coke in its paw like almost all polar bears on TV

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  6. Paul says:

    Polar bears are especially fond of blueberry muffins. These books by Daniel Pinkwater (of NPR fame) and his wife (illustrator) documents the adventures of two. Irving and Muktuk (and their nemesis Officer Bunny).

    If you have kids or grand kids (or friends that have kids) get these books. They are hilarious.

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