Polar Bears Touchdown in Western Hudson Bay – Watts Up With That?

From polar bear science

Published on July 9, 2021 |

So far, I’ve seen the first evidence of a bear on land in Western Hudson Bay, photographed near Churchill Manitoba on June 28 (below).

June 28, 2021 near Churchill

However, on July 5, the first of six collared females from Andrew Derocher’s WH study (below) had also come ashore, as had others along the coast of Wapusk National Park. That is not “early” – just earlier than in recent years. However, like last year, there is still a lot of sea ice in the bay, and some bears seem to be choosing to stay longer in what is considered an “expert” inappropriate habitat. As you can see on his bear tracker card, Derocher uses a filter that only shows an ice concentration of> 50% because he and his friends decided that bears like everything less, that they go ashore as soon as the Ice level falls below this threshold.

Although Derocher’s own data since at least 2015 has shown this to be incorrect (both in Hudson Bay and elsewhere), he and his colleagues still insist that this is the pattern that should prevail (and that they have in their Using models), a topic I discussed last year (with references).

No wonder the polar bears of W. Hudson Bay are heading for land. Very little ice left. A band of ice off the coast of Ontario is a common occurrence and allows some bears to stay off the coast longer. pic.twitter.com/VDdCjWxdwQ – Andrew Derocher (@AEDerocher) July 6, 2021

There is actually a lot more ice in the bay than indicated on Derocher’s tracking map: See the Canadian Ice Service table below:

The ice that is still on the bay is mainly thick first year ice> 1 m. Thick (below), which was less at this point than last year, but nowhere near a catastrophic level (that was no ice at all for the whole of May would have been):

Bear chilling out near Churchill captured on film on July 5, 2021:

Apparently, on the same day (July 5th), two groups of mothers with a boy were spotted on the shores of Wapusk National Park south of Churchill, captured by Explore.org’s live cam (photos are blurry because the camera is very far away is the beach):

The next day (July 6th) another single bear was sighted:

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