It is widely believed that Polar bears spent most of their time on sea ice hunting but stay on land in summer months when the ice recedes. But a group of filmmakers shooting in Greenland found at least 20 polar bears that were living on an iceberg despite the summer showing that some preferred the sea to land all year round.
The filmmakers found more than 20 polar bears on an iceberg called Peterman Iceberg on Baffin Bay 50 kilometers off the Canadian coast. This proves that not all polar bears return to solid ground during the summer months and some may take refuge on small icebergs when the ice melts and wait till it solidifies again.
“What’s there for them is security, and I think they are taking advantage of that,” said Chris Packham, one of the filmmakers speaking to Discovery. “So I think they are living on this iceberg to stay safe, and just wait for the sea ice to come back in.”
If this behaviour is a new adaptation, experts say there might be plenty of reasons to explain it. The polar bears might be taking refuge on the iceberg to safeguard themselves from humans who hunt them on land. Another reasoning says that due to climate change, extreme melting is leading the icebergs to become separated from land.
“In recent years we’ve been seeing a lot more big tabular icebergs come off the Greenland ice sheet and they’re now ending up in Baffin Bay,” said Dr. Keith Nicholls of the British Antarctic Survey, another member of the expedition.
If the trait is indeed new and due to human interference, it is time for conservationists to renew their efforts to preserve the old homes of these polar bears.