This stark footage clearly demonstrates the plight of animals when their habitats are altered, and they cannot find their usual sources of food. It has already been viewed more than 11 million times and is both heartbreaking and educational. We learn a lot about polar bears but perhaps we learn even more about walruses and how powerful they are!
Polar Bears Hunting in the Arctic Circle Survival
This video was filmed by a family on a sailing trip north of the Arctic Circle. They were in an area in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago in late July 2015. This particular scene was recorded at
Hinlopen Strait which is west of Spitsbergen – the largest island. There is always ice in this area and some summers there is so much that it is impossible to pass through. However, this summer there was far less than usual making it much harder for the polar bears that live there to find enough prey to survive.
Polar bears are apex predators who inhabit coastal ice fields and floating ice sheets. They are semi-aquatic and will hunt prey both on land and in the water. To find food, they are accustomed to roaming long distances on land and swimming for miles across the sea. They can even dive underwater for two minutes to catch fish or other animals.
Their main food source is the seal (which is a nutrient-dense meal) and they are experts at catching them! The polar bear will either stalk and chase them or sit by a breathing hole and pounce as the seal rises above the surface.
During the summer, however, the ice recedes and they are forced further north where they have to rely on other food sources such as fish, artic foxes, birds, and berries. They will also occasionally catch a walrus!
Walruses as Prey?
Ideally, polar bears like to hunt seals at the sea ice’s edge but the situation in this video is far from ideal. It is heartbreaking to see the mother and her seven-month-old cub clearly struggling and we learn that if the mother does not eat soon, the bear cub will probably die. The mother will not produce milk (lactate) if she does not eat.
Walruses are a potential meal for a polar bear but they are a huge challenge. These large creatures can weigh up to 3,740 pounds and reach 11.5 feet in length. They also have enormous and sharp tusks which can cause nasty injuries and walruses can be very aggressive. A fit and large polar bear could certainly overcome a sick or weak walrus. However, this polar bear is already weak and the walrus is large and healthy so she does not stand a chance.
We see her sniffing the air and this is because polar bears can detect the scent of carcasses from some distance. She probably mistook this sleeping walrus for a carcass that would have provided a much-needed meal. But when the walrus rears up, it makes even this polar bear look small!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Mikhail Cheremkin/Shutterstock.com
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