A team of Norwegian scientists has made a startling discovery - polar bears in the Arctic are now feeding on dolphins, and the reason why may surprise you.
Scientists have never seen anything like this before – polar bears in the Norwegian High Arctic reason have been observed preying on dolphins.
According to the Huffington Post, scientists first witnessed an adult male polar bear hunting two white-beaked dolphins in the spring of 2014. The bear ate one dolphin as the scientists watched, and covered up the other one with snow- most likely saving it for a later time.
The findings were published in the journal Polar Research on June 1, and they note that in the ice-free summer following the first observation, over seven dolphin carcasses were discovered to have been scavenged upon by at least six individual polar bears.
According to Jon Aars, one of the scientists at the Norwegian Polar Institute, “It is likely that new species are appearing in the diet of polar bears due to climate change because new species are finding their way north.”
Aars posited that dolphins, emboldened by increasing water temperatures, ventured north into the arctic. The retreating ice tricked them as they advanced, and trapped them there when strong winds covered the surface in ice again.
Polar bears are opportunistic hunters, and likely nabbed the dolphins when they came up through a break in the ice for a breath of air.
Retreating ice cover in the Arctic has driven down the population of seals, which are polar bears’ primary food source. The bears are now getting creative, munching on whatever marine mammal comes their way. Scientists were certainly surprised to see the polar bears hunting dolphins, but they say it makes sense considering the changing environment around the Arctic Circle.