Scientists were shocked to observe polar bears eating dolphins for the first time ever. It seems that because of the global warming dolphins move up north and in the absence of seals bears eat anything they get their paws on. More details about the research were published in the journal Polar Research.
Researchers at the Norwegian High Arctic witnessed how an adult male polar beard devoured two white-beaked dolphins. The incident took place last year in mid-April. The polar beat ate one of the dolphins and buried the other one in the snow probably to save it for later. Moreover in the summer and fall which followed researchers discovered seven dolphin carcasses which are believed to be the leftover of six different polar bears which fed on dolphins.
Usually polar bears feed on seals. Jon Aars from the Norwegian Polar Institute was the one who saw the polar bear eating dolphins and explained that the reason why the new species have come to be part of the diet of polar bears is the fact that climate changes make dolphin move north.
Dolphins are not such an unusual view in the Norwegian Arctic region during the summer period when the ice has melted and the water becomes warmer. Dolphins never appear in the area in winter or spring. So it was surprising to see a polar bear eating dolphins in April.
According to Norwegian scientists this could be explained by the fact that ice retreats. This, combined with the fact that two winters were almost entirely devoid of ice, attracted the dolphins in northern regions. As dolphins migrate they can be get trapped when dense ice suddenly arrives. The ice can be blown into a fjord because of the strong from North.
Since the ice retreats there are no more seals for the bears to eat. Ian Stirling from the University of Alberta in Canada said that in this case the polar bears eat any marine mammal which they have access to. Regarding the behavior of the polar bear which was observed eating dolphins Aars remarked:
“We think that he tried to cover the dolphin in snow in the hope that other bears, foxes, or birds would have less of a chance of finding it. Maybe to be able to eat it a day or two later, once he had digested the first one.”
Image Source: SMH