Arctic polar bears have been forced to rethink their diet as a result of climate change. No, they aren’t considering vegetarianism to help offset the droughts in other parts of the world. Instead, they have been feasting on frozen white-beaked dolphins who have found themselves trapped in the surrounding ice. This practice was previously unheard of, since this species of dolphin doesn’t usually venture so far north in the Arctic Ocean during the winter or spring months. With fewer seals to hunt, bears in the region are availing themselves of an unexpected source of sustenance.
Due to a significant rise in surface water temperature in the Norwegian Svalbard islands over the last 45 years, there has been sparse sea-ice cover and flooding during summer months, which likely drew the dolphins into the new territory. Ultimately, they are suspected to have been trapped by winds pushing ice drifts to close off nearby fjords.
“We were surprised, as we had not thought we would see dolphins in that area that time of year, and also because polar bears [had previously not been] recorded taking or eating dolphins,” reported Jon Aars, research scientist at the Norwegian Polar Institute. At least seven dolphin carcasses have been discovered at the site.
As time goes on, we can likely expect to see more examples of nature desperately adapting to its rapidly changing surroundings.
Via Live Science
Images via Jon Aars / Norwegian Polar Institute