Climate Change Forces Polar Bears to Eat Seabird Eggs

119 views | 10:38am on Monday 10th May 2021

The Arctic melting the sea ice caused by heat rise is forcing polar bears to start scavenging in areas populated and snack on seabirds’ eggs, a new study shows. 

Traditionally, polar bears’ primary targets are ringed and bearded seals. However, the increasing deterioration of sea ice as a result of climate change is making them less able to hunt for their regular prey.

types of climates in the world

Polar bears are ditching seals in favor of seabirds’ eggs

With a growing need to find alternative food, polar bears have been pushed farther to find food. They come ashore to snack on seabirds’ eggs and scavenge in human-populated areas.

A new published in the journal Royal Society Open Science has tracked how bears approach the nesting site over a period of 11 days when egg populations are depleted.

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Researchers in Canada used drones to monitor these major predators feeding common eider duck nests on Mitivik Island, in Nunavut.

"We found that later-arriving bears increasingly visited more empty nests and did not travel in an energy-minimizing way, but became less picky in the clutches they consumed," said lead author Patrick Jagielski, of the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Windsor.

However, bears failed to consistently realize how sudden an eider hen moved.

This study shows that although species can incorporate 'less favored' food sources into their diets when it becomes harder to find their primary prey, they may not be able to do so effectively.

types of climates in the world

Climate Change Forces Polar Bears to Eat Seabird Eggs 

While experts say this gives no general indication of new ways polar bears hunt, it does demonstrate a struggle with an animal's diet due to global warming.

A study on the longevity of the species, published in Nature Climate Change in July 2020, estimated the species would be starved to extinction by 2100.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University, who have examined tooth wear in skulls kept in museums, say polar bears are so specialized in their diet that they may have to grapple. to adapt to the warming of the Arctic.

But they say an increase in encounters with grizzly bears may provide an evolutionary option, noting the incidents in which the two species give birth to offspring.

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