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Polar bear makes marathon swim 426 miles across Arctic seas

A polar bear in Alaska swam nine days across the Beaufort Sea before finding a piece of ice to haul out on, scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Wyoming have learned.

Her yearling cub didn't make it. What a scientist called the "ordeal" of Bear 20741 was documented in the journal Polar Biology, and while it may not have been unprecedented -- shrinking Arctic ice has led to frequent reports not only of long-distance swims, but even cannibalism -- the study provided some of the best documentation to date of the real-world conditions of a polar bear on a warming planet.

Researchers outfitted the bear with a GPS-equipped collar, and also a temperature sensor planted deep under her skin to track how her body adapted to swimming constantly in the frigid waters.

The bear lost more than 100 pounds during the swim, which began east of Barrow, Alaska and ended, after ranging more than 400 miles offshore, back at the Beaufort coast near the Canadian border.

-- Kim Murphy

Photo: Shrinking Arctic ice has led to frequent reports of not only long-distance swims by polar bears, but cannibalism as well. (This is not the polar bear that made the nine-day swim.) Credit: Arctic Bear Productions

RELATED: Polar bear's long swim illustrates ice melt

Initial proposal designating critical habitat for polar bears in the Arctic

Polar bears increasingly seen on land around Barrow, Alaska



Comments () | Archives (35)

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why aren't we creating some type of man made ice float to support the bears on their journey?

What's the "rest of the story?" Why did a polar bear want to swim hundreds of miles with a young cub? Where did she start? Where was she going and how did she know about her destination?
It is a fact there are lots of polar bears in the arctic. It is a probability that some die every year. "Cannibalism" may be the result of over population; I have heard that polar bears are not fussy what they eat.
By the way, do any of the experts know why there was the terrible winter of 1888?? Or why the 1930's were in the eastern U.S. so hot and/or droughty? I remember how hot it sometimes got. I'd appreciate any verifiable answers.

Lorraine from Alaska, the bear had GPS satellite tracking. They are not right next to the cub to grab it and save it. The people tracking it could be hundreds or even a thousand miles away.
Then again, maybe telling people it drowned was better than telling them it was cannibalized by its parent?

Unfortunately I feel it may be too late for them. No matter how hard we try now to stop the C02, its too late to stop the ice from melting and the bears will die.
Did you know that even the Wolverines are having trouble? They build their dens in the snow pack, but as the world warms, they are forced higher up the mountains or up into Canada. But the Canadian snow pack is melting too.

why in the world would this study have to allow the cub to drown? This is unforgivable!

from Alaska

One more reason to hate humans and to hate the politics of this world anymore. Every negative thing on this planet this is happening is related to toooooo many humans. Humans who kill other humans who don't deserve to be alive; rapists and those who prey on children; those who have 10 kids and can't take care of themselves; men who have sex with anything that moves; pimps who whore out women and children; the whoremasters in Thailand; those who torture and cripple humans; those who torture animals; those who are greedy and think their power is to rule the universe.

Humans have killed this cub; humans have forces this polar bear to swim over 400 miles just to find ice; now what? Now where does she go? She is starving and will die on this ice floe.

Humans deserve all that is coming to us. I hope that the population of humans drop dramatically in the coming years. I hope more and more women and men become sterile; I hope less and less children are born; I wish that only one of every 10 million sexual encounters results in a child.

We do not deserve to have aplanet as great as this one. We screwed it up and if there is any type of spiritual being who is in charge of this; get your butt to earth and straighten out the humans. Your animals are dying.

When these studies are done, I think it says by the U.S.G.S (Geological Survey), they are not allowed to intervene in nature's course. They aren't exactly an environmental naturalist entity but this is the basic practice. This polar bear's voyage is what is naturally occurring in the Arctic to our wildlife. It's very depressing, at some point its going to get really bad.

Interesting article, but so much obvious information is missing!
Who was tracking this journey and how?
Why didn't they do something to help the polar bear and her young?

Link to the original study, published in January 2011 in reference to data collected in 2008, is fixed! There have been no links to Greenpeace. Full story with details, for those who don't want to pay to download the study itself, is the first link under the post.

Regardless of whether or not global warming exists, the facts remain that we as a nation still need to break away from our addiction to foreign oil, begin using more forms of clean energy and reduce our pollution output. I think and hope everyone can agree on those obvious points.
As for referring to anyone who is left-wing (which I am not) as a "climate nazi", such a general accusation is based on extreme ignorance and intolerance toward the viewpoints of others. I've yet to read or hear about anyone who is a current left-wing and exterminates people of other race or religion. I'm quite sure that would make headlines. So let us not forget what a nazi was and is, lest we repeat such horrific mistakes of our past.
And let's remember that this polar bear, this mother lost her child along the journey. Consider that if you have a child. Wildlife will protect their children with their own lives. And yet, in their desperate search for an ice floe and food, the cub drowned from exhastion, and the mother didn't even have the time or opportunity to mourn her loss.

Ok, The story links back to itself and all the other links don't work (springerlink). All the Google links are copy and pastes of the same Greenpeace press release.

Then I found a story that said this swim occurred in the Summer 2008;

"With data collected over a two-month period in 2008, Durner and his colleagues chronicled the bear's eastward journey along the Alaska coast, during which she made that incredible nine-day, 426-mile swim from land to floating pack ice over the sea's deep waters. Along the way, she lost her yearling cub and 22 percent of her body weight: more than 100 pounds.

dawnmarie: "This sickens me...
This artic bear productions has the money to watch this polar bear..but can't take the initiative to build a cage apparatus to catch/harness this mother and baby!!"
This photo was licensed from Arctic Bear Productions but this is NOT the same bear as in the story!

i agree with the other comments that someone needs to step in and help the polar bears, not just watch them die. they have nowhere to go and nothing to eat, they will be extinct if we don't step in and help them. i agree a sanctuary needs to be created for them. just watching them die isn't the answer. we ruined their habitat, now we need to help them survive after all we've done to the planet.

If you think man's presence on the planet has had no impact on the environment or our climate perhaps you should reexamine the properties and byproducts of a diesel engine.

Wanting to protect the environment for future generations and other species that exist on this planet does not make someone a Nazi. Being a German Nazi makes one a Nazi. That designation has no place in this discussion.

To everyone, but in relation to what comment writer richard harris said:

There is a distinct difference between "Climate Change" and "Anthropogenic Climate Change" - the latter is what us "left wing climate nazis" are speaking about.

You are correct in that the Earth's climate has seen drastic shifts in temperature over the eons that it has been around, but what is different now is the RATE at which these drastic changes are occurring - anthropogenic (meaning human caused) climate change is affecting the atmosphere, rain fall, temperature and species loss all around the planet at a rate that is not sustainable by the Earth's natural power to balance itself.

Somebody show this to Sarah Palin . She seems to think that because there are so many Polar bears invading trash containers in Alaska that there's an abundance of them .? She actually tried suing the EPA over said issue ... Hey Sarah .! Howz that goin...? Whats that Forest..? "Stupid is, as stupid does.?"
"Hello!!!!, Sarah..? There's no more ice flows for the bears to float on..? !"

It's too late for the polar bears so we need to develop a rescue plan for them, some big park with meals of frozen seals until the climate change reverses and they can go out on their own again.

Or we can just wave goodbye and stream videos of how they used to be for our kids to watch.

It will be our turn soon, never fear. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.

During times of normal temperatures wine grapes cannot be grown in Britain. This is the case today. At the time of the Roman invasion of Britain, approximately at the time of Christ, wine grapes were grown in Britain by the Romans.

We know also that around 1000 AD wine grapes were also grown in Britain. In addition we also know that the Vikings were growing wine grapes at their settlement in Newfoundland around 1000 AD. Wine grapes cannot be grown in Newfoundland today. Thus we know that global temperatures were much higher both 1000 and 2000 years ago than they are today.

Thus global climate heating and cooling are natural phenomena which have nothing to do with man's presence on the planet. Notice also that the famous hockey stick pattern completely omitted the spike in temperatures for the two periods cited.

So all you foaming at the mouth left-wing climate nazis can stop with your sieg heiling about climate change. It's just an unadulterated scam being perpetrated by university scientist hacks to obtain funding for their otherwise unneeded research positions.

A very significant item of information which was not reported was the dates during which this swim occurred. The bear's motivation and timing for the swim are significant items of information. There is only a very brief time period during which such a swim could have occurred so it is important to know the dates.

Wow. Polar Bears can swim?
Of course they can swim. They're scientifically-classified as aquatic mammals.

Rob -- If we continue the way we are (overpopulation, pollution, etc.) it will be our time to die too. Don't be heartless. These are innocent animals that are the harbinger of our own fate.

Perhaps it’s just their time to die

This sickens me...
This artic bear productions has the money to watch this polar bear..but can't take the initiative to build a cage apparatus to catch/harness this mother and baby!! God gives us the ability to protect our world-not watch it die away! Not helping/aiding this bear and her cub in finding ice, is just as bad as the eco system that is failing all around us.... God gives and man still can't grasp that it is in their reach to help restore! Idiots!

People don't much care. I have been using my own grocery bags for many years including nets for veggies and fruits. Never, ever have I seen a single other person using anything like that. It's plastic, plastic and more plastic. Do they recycle the plastic? Hell NO. We are pooping where we live. Cats and dogs and other animals won't do that, but human beings don't mind in the least. Nothing will ever change. People look as far as their noses and that is about it. Asian and Hispanic population growth is completely out of control and soon will all be demanding SUV's and BIG SCREEN tv's to suck off more electricity. It won't be long now till aramageddon.

That wasn't a bear. It was a Chinese dude in a bear suit and all he was carrying was his Air Canada air miles card.

This heartbreaking situation seems hopeless. A long term rescue program needs to be instituted to save these beautiful animals, seemingly sentenced to extinction unless we act.

Robert Dorff

Sad Story cant people make a difference and stop polluting

It's like the medieval warm period all over again. Good for Vikings but bad for polar bears.

Oh, the urge to toss out a life-preserver...

Why don't you people who are reading these foolish stories do some thing useful?
Why don't you smarten up? Before it's to late!
Stop just putting up stupid and un-useful and ignorant comments.
You wouldn't hear about them if we could put an end to all fossil fuel usage!
But No, You and your leaders have ignored any and all requests we made by email or on the Internet for help with a simple research to find the elusive energy this world needs. (A subject that has eluded all professionals!) Don't blame us, Just look into the mirror of stupidity and you'll honestly see one following in the same foot steps! After asking your ignorant governments, leaders and media outlets for help who love to ignore anything unless you pay them. Then are you going to do the same? (Ignore!)
Or help with only profound research that will stop these parasites in their tracks! (Oil Companies, Banking industry, and a host of others. Remember some one has to drop the ball on their toes!) And we will do it!
D. C.

I don't know the answer to the question about collar drag, but as for the cub--no, it was not collared, so far as I know.

I wonder how much drag the GPS tracking collar caused. And, do they put them on the babies too?

Give this bear a coke... STAT!

Well deserved.

Marathon = 26. 22 miles
Bear swim = 426/26.22 = 16+ marathons

All you TPer's/climate change deniers just keep moving...nothing to see here.


Micheal Phelps- eat your heart out.


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