In the Arctic, Polar Bears Are Hunting Dolphins (and Freezing Them for Later).

by Owen James Burke

doi:10.3402/polar.v34.26612

Above: an adult polar bear works at the remains of a dolphin killed by another bear. Photo: John Aars/Polar Research.

In Norway, a team of researchers have recorded a group of polar bears that are hunting dolphins, a first in scientific history. Odd as it may seem, scientists aren’t shocked:

“They will eat any marine mammal given a chance,” researcher Jon Aars told NewScientist. “The bigger surprise was that the dolphins were entrapped before they could migrate south for the winter.”

polarbear

Photo: John Aars/Polar Research.

The researchers believe that the dolphins were caught in ice brought on by unseasonably cold weather and as surfacing holes in the ice grew fewer and fewer, they became increasingly vulnerable to attack from above.

The bear that made the kill was seen burying his catch for later, a behavior not commonly associated with polar bears, as having excess food is a rare luxury in the far north where being opportunistic is principal to survival.

Read the study in the journal Polar Research. -OJB

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