What's better than a panda cam? In terms of cuteness, not much. But if you're looking to swap "cute" for "carnivore," these polar bear cams, currently live-streaming from near Churchill, Canada, will knock your socks off.
From Nov. 5-20, the cameras will document the migration of around 1,000 polar bears. They're headed to the southwest corner of the Hudson Bay to await the formation of sea ice, which the bears will travel across in search of seals.
As the southernmost group of polar bears on the planet, the Hudson Bay population is particularly susceptible to inconsistent sea ice formation, which has become even more erratic as the Arctic warms. Per The Guardian, growing numbers of ice-free days have kept polar bears off the sea ice and away from their primary diet of seals, contributing to a long-term decline in population health.
A media release from Explore.org, one of the organizations behind the camera effort, estimates the Hudson Bay polar bear population is in its final decades of existence.
"Studies suggest [the bears are] losing nearly 2 lbs. a day while on land," Steven Amstrup, the chief scientist for Polar Bears International, another organization involved in the effort, told LiveScience. "And they aren't dieting intentionally."
Amstrup added that bears have been forced to stay on land one extra day each year because of declining sea ice.
That trend is also seen on a more global scale, with polar bears struggling to survive as ice retreats further and further each summer. Notes National Geographic, some isolated areas in the Canadian Arctic and Greenland may serve as holdouts for polar bears through the next century, but with increased warming, says Amstrup, "even those last refuges will fail to sustain the icon of the Arctic."
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A previous webcam initiative by Polar Bears International, the Scandinavian Wildlife Park and Explore.org tracked the progress of Siku, a young polar bear cub orphaned after his mother was unable to produce milk for him. See photos of Siku below, courtesy of Søren Koch/Hilmer & Koch Nature Photography: