Polar Bear Cam Provides Researchers With Arctic Reality Show

The collar-mounted camera is part of a study on how the animals respond to loss of sea ice from climate warming

The U.S. Geological Survey released a clip Friday of what the agency described as the first "point of view" video from a polar bear as it roams a vast expanse of frozen sea and splashes into icy waters north of Alaska.

The camera was attached in April to the female bear in the Beaufort Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean. Video from the cameras -- attached to the collars of four polar bears -- will be used in a study to understand how the animals respond to loss of sea ice from climate warming.

In the two-minute clip posted on the USGS YouTube page Friday, the polar bear's view shows her entering icy waters, wrestling with the carcass of a frozen seal and interacting with a male polar bear.

Information provided by the polar bear cams will help researchers better understand the animals' nutritional requirements and how they expend energy, according to the USGS. The video marks a successful second attempt after the batteries in two video cameras used for a 2013 study failed because of the Arctic cold.

"We used different cameras this year, and we are thrilled to see that the new cameras worked," said Dr. Todd Atwood, research leader for the USGS Polar Bear Research Program, in a news release.

Previous polar bear studies involved radio and satellite telemetry, which told scientist about the bear's location. Researchers using the new cameras can now connect the bear's location with what she was actually doing at the time -- hunting seals, swimming across open water or sleeping.

The collars were active for about eight to 10 days, but should provide enough information for scientists to discover activity patterns, according to the USGS.

The study is led by USGS research biologist and University of California Santa Cruz student Anthony Pagano.

In 2008, the polar bear was listed as a threatened species due to the ongoing loss of sea ice habitat from global climate change. Polar bears are excellent swimmers, but sea ice forms the critical habit on which they live and hunt prey.

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