Ever wanted to know what the world looks like from the eyes of a polar bear? Well now you can. On the principle that if we can see it we might just decide to save it, the US Geological Survey has provided a bear's eye view to anyone wishing to experience it from the comfort of their home.
One of the great challenges of Arctic studies is the limited research season. In the Beaufort Sea this can be just six weeks in spring when it is light enough to see what is going on but the ice is safely solid – a period that is getting shorter with every year that passes.
Male polar bears appear to spend too much time working out and have necks wider than their heads, allowing collars to slip off. Female bears are more collar friendly and scientists have been able to fit four with GPS trackers and accelerometers to tell if the bears are swimming, running or resting.
Hoping to reveal the bears' summer behavior the USGS Polar Bear Research Program's tried attaching cameras in April 2013 with the survey's Dr Todd Atwood saying, "It's all information that we wouldn't be able to get otherwise," Unfortunately the camera batteries couldn't handle conditions in a land so wide and savage.
Now improved cameras have given us the footage below from the ice north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska – warning for those who can't bear too much shaky camera syndrome, not to mention the sight of half eaten seals.
Although the cameras only lat 8-10 days, rather than the whole summer, they have extended our knowledge of how this iconic species are responding to climate change. The work will contribute to the Polar Bear Conservation Management Plan under the Endangered Species Act.