Polar bears can swim vast distances

2012-05-02 14:00
A study has found that polar bears can swim for vast distances. (AP)

A study has found that polar bears can swim for vast distances. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Anchorage - Polar bears are capable of swimming vast distances, a potential survival skill needed in an Arctic environment where summer sea ice is vanishing, a study led by the US Geological Survey showed.

The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Zoology, tracked 52 female polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea off Alaska. Between 2004 and 2009, a period of extreme summer-ice retreat, about a third of those bears made swims exceeding 50km in distance, according to the study results.

The 50 recorded ultra-marathon swims averaged 155km, and one bear was able to swim nearly 354km, according to the study results. The duration of the long-distance swims lasted from most of a day to nearly 10 days, according to the study.

The bears' movements were tracked using global positioning system collars. All the animals in the study were females because male polar bear necks are too thick for GPS-equipped collars, said Karen Oakley, a supervising biologist at the USGS Alaska Science Centre.

Many of the polar bears in the study had young cubs with them, and it appears that at least some of the cubs - which were not collared - might have been able to keep up with their mothers in the water, USGS officials said.

Concern

The scientists were able to track 10 of the studied bears within a year of collaring and found that six still had their cubs, the lead scientist said in a statement released by the USGS.

"These observations suggest that some cubs are also capable of swimming long distances. For the other four females with cubs, we don't know if they lost their cubs before, during, or at some point after their long swims," Anthony Pagano, a USGS scientist and lead author of the study, said in the statement.

While the demonstrated long-distance swimming ability is likely a good thing for polar bears, scientists were concerned about the animals expending too much energy in their efforts to travel across open water, the USGS statement said.

Oakley said the study sample was too small to draw conclusions about the fate of the entire polar bear population, which in 2008 was designated as threatened and granted Endangered Species Act protections because of rapid warming in their Arctic habitat.

The study simply describes behaviour that was observed, Oakley said. "It's just very interesting that in fact they can swim long distances, and cubs can swim long distances," she said. "Do all the cubs that attempt to swim these long distances survive? We don't know."

Scientists do not know whether such long-distance swimming is a new behaviour, USGS officials said.

The technology to track long-distance bear swims accurately was not available in the past, said Oakley. "The GPS technology, which is relatively new, is what allowed us to really do the actual in-depth analysis of this," she said.

But polar bears probably lacked the opportunity or need to make such long swims in that part of the Arctic in the past. In past decades, polar bears were always able to rest on available floating summer sea ice, she said.

"These long distances of open water didn't use to exist in the southern Beaufort Sea," she said. "Did they swim these really long distances? Well, they didn't have to because they weren't there."

Read more on:    animals
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Newlands - 13:00 PM
    Road name: M3 Southbound
    SLOW TRAFFIC approaching the Newlands Avenue exit
  • Wednesday Bakoven - 12:59 PM
    Road name: Victoria Road Northbound
    DELAYS between Oudekraal and Bakoven
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9380

The first BlackBerry Curve smartphone with a touch screen Stay connected...

From R1799.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself fascinated by something which could draw you in to obsessively exploring this subject in depth....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.