Monday, 26 March 2007

Bears Hunt Belugas

This is my third polar bear post in a month, after posting about polar bear/grizzly hybrids and the orphaned polar bear cub, Knut I hope you’re not getting tired of them, they are fascinating creatures.

Polar bears live a feast and famine lifestyle. They are large animals (an adult males weighs 300-600kg) that live in the freezing tundra so they have huge metabolic needs. They normally prey on ringed seals but will eat almost anything they can catch, including walruses, birds, eggs and occasionally they supplement their diet with a big, juicy, beluga whale!

Beluga whales are distinctive for their pale skin and large melon shaped head. These animals can grow up to 5m (16ft) in length and live in large pods, mainly in the Arctic and Canadian Subarctic. Belugas live close to coastlines and in winter they occasionally become trapped in savsatts, small openings in ice packs. Belugas can find themselves the victims of shrinking savsatts, which they use to breath. Each animal will take a turn coming up for air and in the worst of winter, their movement is all that keeps the savsatt open.

Hence an opportunity that a wandering polar bear may chance by and certainly one he can’t resist. The bear will jump in the water, clubbing the trapped whale with his paw and gorging it with his claws. It may take several attempts but the bear usually succeeds in his catch and drags the whale’s carcass on to the ice for a feast. Other polar bears will share in the prize and any leftover kill will be happily devoured by scavenging arctic foxes and gulls.

If you find this post interesting I encourage you to also check out Darren Naish’s very cool post on Wolf-Hunting Eagles!

More information can be found at Polar Bears International.


Laelaps said...

Nice post. I remember seeing footage of this for the first time in the BBC's "Blue Planet: Polar Seas" documentary and was absolutely floored by it.

Sarda Sahney said...

Yes, I saw that episode too, it was very good. I noticed footage of lions hunting elephants on your website. Again, it was David Attenbourough's show where I first saw it for the first time!

Anonymous said...

Knut is so very kewl.


Anonymous said...

I still don't believe it. Although polar bears are big and nasty I figure the beluga is bigger and whole lot heavier. How can the bear kill the whale and drag it out of the water? (I missed that part on the Blue Planet special.)

SEOContest2008 said...

The bear will eat the Beluga for sure!

Anonymous said...

A beluga whale is to much for a bear to handle. Only if it's dead already, or a youngster

Anonymous said...