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A peek into polar bears’ lives reveals revved-up metabolisms

In a world with declining Arctic sea ice, that could be a problem

By
3:24pm, February 1, 2018
polar bear

BEARS ON ICE  A study that put camera collars on polar bears showed that the bears have higher springtime metabolic rates than previous estimates.

View the video

Female polar bears prowling springtime sea ice have extreme weight swings, some losing more than 10 percent of their body mass in just over a week. And the beginnings of bear video blogging help explain why.

An ambitious study of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in Alaska has found that their overall metabolic rate is 1.6 times greater than thought, says wildlife biologist Anthony Pagano of the U.S. Geological Survey in Anchorage. With bodies that burn energy fast, polar bears need to eat a blubbery adult ringed seal (or 19 newborn seals) every 10 to 12 days just to maintain weight, Pagano and his colleagues report in the Feb. 2 Science. Camera-collar vlogs, a bear’s-eye view of the carnivores’ diet and lifestyle secrets, show just how well individual bears are doing.

The study puts the firmest numbers yet on basic needs of

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