Polar Bears are Back!
It's that time of year when polar bears are gathering along the Hudson Bay to wait for ice to form. As the temperatures drop, they travel the ice pathway to open water and prime seal hunting grounds.
Every Fall, Churchill’s polar bears gather along the shores of Hudson Bay. During that time, they’re in a state known as walking hibernation when they fast until the sea ice forms again in late fall.
Polar bears don’t actually hibernate. Most remain on the sea ice all winter long to hunt seals. They can reduce their metabolic rate when food is scarce.
In the fall, pregnant polar bears den after feeding heavily in August and September. They remain in the dens for four to eight months. During that time, they live off their fat reserves. A mother polar bear gives birth to one, two, or three cubs in November or December. Twins are most common.
The main threat to polar bears is loss of their sea ice habitat due to climate change. Without sea ice, polar bears can't reach their prey. Less time on the sea ice means less time to hunt. As the ice-free season gets longer and longer polar bears are forced to test the limits of their fat reserves.
Polar bears are adapted for life on the sea ice. In the High Arctic, the sun sets in October and doesn't rise again until late February. Winter temperatures often plunge to -40° or -50° F and stay that way for days or weeks.
How do Polar Bears respond to seasonal change? The images and video captured during the fall season are your springboard to research and discovery.