11/16/2012 03:36 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Window Into the Polar Bear Migration

Every fall, hundreds of polar bears gather near Churchill, Canada, on Hudson Bay to wait for the sea ice to form. It's one of the most extraordinary events in the natural world, offering a rare glimpse into the lives of these majestic animals.

At Polar Bears International, we're pleased to team up once again with our partners and Frontiers North to bring you a live, streaming Polar Bear Cam -- with close-up views of moms snuggling with cubs, large male bears play-wrestling, and young bears testing the ice along the shore.

Polar bears have emerged as the iconic symbol of global warming due to sea ice losses in a melting Arctic. They roam across the Far North in areas where they can hunt seals from a platform of sea ice. Their habitat is a harsh, hauntingly beautiful place where northern lights ripple across the sky, snow sweeps across the tundra, and huge pans of ice crash against each other, creating tall pressure ridges and unusual ice formations.

The polar bears we show on the live cam are located at the southern edge of the polar bear's range. While their cousins in the Far North hunt seals year-round, the Western Hudson Bay bears are forced ashore each summer when the Bay melts. They spend the next few months in a prolonged fasting state, conserving their energy and living off their fat reserves. When an autumn nip chills the air, they begin migrating north along the Hudson Bay coast to Churchill in anticipation of freeze-up and a return to their seal-hunting grounds.

Although Churchill's polar bear migration is part of an age-old pattern, global warming has caused Hudson Bay to melt earlier each summer and to freeze later, greatly shortening the hunting season of these polar bears and straining the limit of their fat reserves. As a result, their numbers have dropped by 22 percent over the past 20 years. The trend is expected to occur in other populations in the foreseeable future unless global warming is stopped or reversed.

The live Polar Bear Cam provides a window onto this world, allowing you to become inspired by the beauty of these majestic animals, to witness the effects of global warming first-hand -- and to become inspired to take action.

In honor of the return of the cam and Polar Bear Week, we invite you to take part in a new community gathering place on the PBI website called My Planet, My Part (MPMP). You can share ideas, become inspired, commit to reducing your carbon footprint, and network with like-minded people from around the world! The launch includes a Polar Bear Ambassador Contest. We invite you to share your stories, photos, and videos of how you're reducing your carbon footprint for a chance to win a trip to view the wild polar bears of Churchill, Canada, courtesy of

The scientists on our advisory council assure us that it's not too late to save polar bears if we drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We hope that viewing polar bears in their natural setting inspires you to take action to reduce your carbon footprint -- and join us in building momentum through your friends, family members and larger community to a solution.

PHOTO GALLERY Polar Bear Photos