Katmai National Park’s Fat Bear Week has come and gone, with Holly the Huge taking home top honors, but this week another bear-oriented diversion is here to captivate and aid with meditation, motivation, procrastination, anything you might need it for. Churchill, Canada is the setting for a polar bam cam that debuted this week, training its lenses on bears as they hang out and wait for sea ice to form on Hudson Bay. Once it does, the bears will set out for the seal hunting grounds.
In the meantime, the bears range along the shoreline in a state of reduced metabolism, something occasionally called “walking hibernation” though that term implies more energy conservation than is actually going on. The bears are living primarily from their fat reserves built up over winter as they feast on seals. They may eat things like kelp and berries while they wait for the late fall freeze-up, but they generally conserve as much energy as they can. Once the sea ice grows thick enough, they’ll again have access to their primary seal hunting grounds.
Of course, climate change is affecting this behavior, as fall freezes occur later, stretching the bears’ ability to live off their fat, and spring thaws occur earlier, shortening their hunting season.
While they are still there, however, the cameras are on it, offering a glimpse into a dwindling way of life, but one still full of Arctic beauty.
Watch the cams here, with highlight sections if the bears are absent or below, courtesy of Parks Canada, explore.org, and Frontiers North Adventures.
Photo: Emma Bishop