Missing birds

Polar Bears, dead seals, Glaucous and Ivory Gulls belong together. The bears find and kill the seals and then the gulls move in to feed on the left overs. This trip we did find a Polar Bear on an old kill, a Bearded Seal. The bear had already eaten most (and probably another bear had also been eating from it already) and now the Glaucous Gulls were feeding on it. However, no matter where we looked, no Ivory Gulls were to be seen.  With all experience we had on board, we couldn’t remember seeing a dead seal with still enough to eat without having at least one Ivory Gull around…

The most likely explanation for this might be that the numbers of Ivory Gulls are declining as the seal meat they eat most is contaminated with pollutants which accumulate in the food chain. The higher in the food chain, the higher the concentration of these pollutants as they cannot be broken down. Higher up in the food chain, in the seals, Ivory Gulls and Polar Bears the concentration can get too high, increasing mortality in these species…

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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