Tracking in a changing world

Polar Bear
Polar Bear

Every now and then we find Polar Bears with a collar. Not the most photogenic bears, but it’s for a good cause. These collars contain a satellite tracking system which allow scientists to follow these bears. This gives us a great insight into the movement of bears throughout the year. The only disadvantage is that only females can be tagged like this, as the neck of a male is thicker as the head, which means the collar will fall off easily. In a (successful) effort to make science more available to the general public some of these satellite tagged bears are also visible on the internet. The World Wildlife Fund has a special Polar Bear tracker website where you can follow them nearly real time. It’s really interesting to see the movements of these animals. Most animals have a relatively small home range, but some bears migrate large distances. This year one bear almost made it to the North Pole (well, still had 300km to go), while last year a bear moved from Spitsbergen to Frans Joseph Land, to Novaya Zemlya, to the New Siberian Islands and back to Frans Joseph land. She covered over 3000km in less as a year. Really remarkable and something we would never have known if not for those ‘ugly collars’.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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