2019 Alaska aerial survey discovered essentially the most polar bears since 2012 – dozens of fats wholesome bears

Reposted from Polar Bear Science

Posted on January 12, 2020 |

This aerial shot of six fats polar bears lolling round on a sand seashore on the coast of the Southern Beaufort Sea, Alaska, was taken by NOAA workers in July 2019. It exemplifies the truth that bears on this subpopulation are presently ample and wholesome, negating the suggestion that numbers have continued to drop since 2006 as a result of bears are ravenous.

Six fat polar bear wallow in SB sand_NOAA summer 2019

The above image of polar bear well being shouldn’t be an exception however the rule for all 31 bears recorded onshore final July, because the images under from different places testify. Those that would blame this abundance of bears on lack of sea ice in 2019 ought to observe that ice retreated as early and as extensively in 2017 but solely three bears have been noticed onshore. Outcomes of a latest (2017-2018) inhabitants survey, which haven’t but been made public, will after all not replicate circumstances seen in 2019.

Beaufort Chukchi Sea polar-bear distribution from Cronin et al 2006

Beaufort Chukchi Sea polar-bear distribution from Cronin et al 2006

Alaska’s polar bear vary: Southern Beaufort Sea (which ends at Barrow) to the Canadian border, overlaps with bears from the Chukchi Sea within the west, displaying location of Prudhoe Bay. From Cronin et al. 2006.

In line with an official NOAA weblog report by Vicki Beaver, unbiased aerial marine mammal observer to NOAA’s ASAMM group [my bold] – see pdf right here:

“July 2019 tallied extra polar bear sightings than any earlier July since ASAMM Beaufort Sea summer season surveys started again in 2012. Beforehand, seven bears was ASAMM’s document for essentially the most bears seen in July on sea ice or land or in open water, for the western Beaufort and jap Chukchi seas mixed.

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This July we had 38 polar bears! Thirty. Eight.

Whereas it might seem to be a great factor to see so many bears, we can not assume that elevated sightings equals an growing inhabitants. In truth, it might be fairly the opposite.

Traditionally, polar bears within the Beaufort Sea spent their whole yr on sea ice, aside from females that spent winter in dens on the coastal plain. Just lately, an growing variety of polar bears are coming ashore within the western Beaufort Sea and they’re arriving earlier, leaving later, and staying for longer durations general.

From 2012 to 2018 through the month of July, ASAMM recorded solely three polar bears on shore. These three bears have been seen in 2017, a yr when sea ice retreated earlier within the season than most different years. In July 2019, 31 of the 38 bears recorded have been seen on shore.

That is taking place due to sea ice decline. Arctic sea ice in 2019 tied with 2007 and 2016 for the second lowest sea ice extent since fashionable recordkeeping started within the late 1970s. A marked decline in sea ice protection and an elevated interval of ice absence within the southern Beaufort Sea in September has been documented over the past 15 years.”

Properly, sure – she would say that seeing extra bears doesn’t imply there are extra bears: that’s the official line to clarify any and all will increase in latest onshore sightings or issues with bears (despite the fact that within the 1980s, seeing extra bears did imply extra bears).

By her personal admission, 2017 had an early retreat of sea ice within the Southern Beaufort, but solely three bears have been seen onshore through the July portion of the summer season survey, so she explains away this contradiction by speaking about developments. Nevertheless, citing 30 yr developments in sea ice decline to clarify occasions one particular time is a PR stunt: it’s a means of spinning data to go well with the narrative however scientifically, it makes completely no sense.

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A take a look at the ice document for these two years (2017 and 2019) exhibits little or no distinction within the Southern Beaufort: there was some ice remaining within the western portion each years by the start of July however the remainder was nearly ice-free.

Sea ice Canada 2019 July 2

Sea ice Canada 2019 July 2

Sea ice Canada 2017 July 7

Sea ice Canada 2017 July 7

By mid-July, there was really extra ice off the Alaska coast in 2019 than there was in 2017 (each pictures under) and but there have been solely three bears noticed onshore throughout July in 2017 however 31 in 2019:

Sea ice Canada 2019 July 16

Sea ice Canada 2019 July 16

Sea ice Canada 2017 July 16

Sea ice Canada 2017 July 16

There may be going to should be a greater story than ‘not sufficient ice’ to clarify the abundance of fats, wholesome polar bears seen in July 2019 on the Beaufort coast. I will even level out that since these bears have been proper off the ice in July, they didn’t get fats from feeding on final yr’s whale carcasses, as proven under: they acquired fats from their spring feeding.

9 fats bears, together with moms with cubs, have been discovered drawn to 2018’s picked-over whale carcasses close to Prudhoe Bay at Cross Island in late July 2019 (under): the primary bowhead of the season in 2019 was not taken till 29 August.

Nine polar bears, including mothers and cubs, feeding on bowhead whale remains on Cross Island NOAA 23 Oct 2019

Nine polar bears, including mothers and cubs, feeding on bowhead whale remains on Cross Island NOAA 23 Oct 2019

Additionally from the report, relating to bears at whale carcasses [my bold]:

“Previous to 2019, the earliest ASAMM has recorded massive aggregations of polar bears was August 15, in 2016 (13 bears).  In 2019, ASAMM documented 20 polar bears on Cross Island by late July.

All through the rest of the 2019 discipline season, ASAMM continued to see excessive numbers of polar bears alongside the western Beaufort Beach on a number of events.  On October 23, ASAMM documented 32 polar bears – largely moms with cubs – on Cross Island.

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These bears have been fats sufficient in July to simply survive a Four-5 month quick just like the bears do in Western Hudson Bay, who sometimes quick from early July to November. Ice had returned to the jap portion of the Southern Beaufort by late October (under) and had prolonged east and west by the 14th of November:

Canada sea ice extent 2019 Oct 26

Canada sea ice extent 2019 Oct 26

Listed here are extra photos from the report, all displaying fats, wholesome bears.

A fats mom with two-year previous cubs relaxation on a seashore:

Mother and two-year-old cubs resting onshore SB_NOAA summer 2019

Mother and two-year-old cubs resting onshore SB_NOAA summer 2019

A number of fats bears, together with a mom and cub, relaxation on a seashore:

Fat bears on SB beach_NOAA summer 2019

Fat bears on SB beach_NOAA summer 2019

In western Alaska, 4 fats bears feed on a bowhead whale carcass that doesn’t seem like the stays of subsistence looking (i.e. a pure demise):

Four polar bears on a bowhead whale carcass near W Beaufort Sea shoreline_NOAA Summer 2019

Four polar bears on a bowhead whale carcass near W Beaufort Sea shoreline_NOAA Summer 2019

And lastly, listed here are two household teams recognized by the observers: a mom with three cubs (a triplet litter hardly ever seen exterior Western Hudson Bay) and one other with two cubs, that look simply as fats and wholesome because the others:

Two females one with three cubs _L_ and one with two cubs _R_NOAA summer 2019

Two females one with three cubs _L_ and one with two cubs _R_NOAA summer 2019

From the 2018 survey, is an especially fats bear in August stress-free close to Barrow (now Utqiagvik) after feeding on a walrus carcass close by (therefore the bloody face):

Fat bear near Barrow late August 2019 NOAA

Fat bear near Barrow late August 2019 NOAA

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