PARIS: Hungry polar bears are increasingly looking for seabird eggs as climate change shrinks their Arctic hunting grounds, but research published Wednesday on the phenomenon highlights a struggle these supreme predators must adapt to their rapidly changing environment.
The threat of climate change for polar bears is well known, driven by the extraordinary pace of change in the Arctic, which is warming twice as fast as the planet as a whole. This is already leading to a reduction in sea ice, shortening the time required to hunt seals, their favorite prey. With the growing imperative of finding alternative food, polar bears have been pushed further in search of food, including cleaning in populated areas.
Some bears also come ashore at the same time as seabirds nest and nibble their eggs. To measure how effective these food chain predators were – and therefore how useful eggs are for providing energy in their diet – researchers in Canada used drones to monitor them feeding from common dwarf duck nests on Mitivik Island, in Nunavutu.