The late Will Cuppy said :
“ Frogs will eat red-flannel worms fed to them by biologists. This proves a great deal by both parties concerned”
The “little bear” story was in part a journal entry I wrote when I ran the polar bear cam a few years back. It's a nice feel good story that shows how adaptive the polar bear can be. Is this an isolated case that I was fortunate enough to witness...I think not. I am sure somewhere out there in the bears immense domain another polar bear cub has tagged onto a surrogate benefactor albeit at a distance. There have been other instances of adaptation for survival that I have seen that made me shake my head in astonishment. One that got me thinking was when I came across a mother with a single cub making their way along an old beach ridge that pointed out into the Hudson Bay.
Bright sunshine, not a breath of wind with just a hint of fall in the air; end of September can be a volatile time with easterly winds that bring nothing but crap weather for days on end, sleet and rain and snow but on this day everything was good. A full tide and a lazy sea made it all quite serene. The mom with the cub close behind slipped into the water off the point of land with barely a ripple, the cub quickly taking his place just over the shoulder along moms back. The pair swam straight out from land until lost in the valleys of the long swell. There was nothing out there. The direction they were going they could swim for a hundred miles and not reach land; couldn't figure it out.
I continued on my way following the shoreline hoping to run into something interesting but still looking back and out to sea with the binoculars for any sign of the bears return. The day was wearing on. I doubled back following the same route I came bringing me near to the spot the mom and cub started their swim; the tide now ebbing exposing a stretch of tidal flats that will within a few hours reach out until the blue water is barely visible. I stopped when a flash of white at the edge of the tide line caught me and with the binoculars seen the mom emerge from the water, the cub behind, with a fresh killed seal in her mouth. Quite a sight. While enjoying my good fortune it struck me that there was not a bit of ice as far as the eye could see and wouldn't be for another month or so. Without the platform of ice to hunt seal from the polar bear is unable to sustain itself or so the "learned ones" would lead us to believe but here in front of me was a mother enjoying a meal along with her cub, how did she do it ? I didn't know for sure..I had an idea.
It is surprising how close you can get to a seal when he is having a snooze, the seal will rest while floating on top of the water, on a warm sunny day like this with a calm sea no doubt the chance of finding a sleeping seal is pretty good. A mother with cub has to have exceptional hunting skills to pull this off but there it was...there might be other reasons she ended up with a seal but from watching her swim away with her cub I sensed she was up to something and she knew what she was doing.
There has been a lot of controversy about the fate of this population of polar bears. With the wonky weather and the bombast from conservation organizations that preach certain doom it all becomes a bit messy. The "learned ones" who make up the advisory boards of these organizations and who are the ones most quoted in the press will not admit or at least give a nod to the fact these bears are adapting and adapting quickly to the challenges mother nature has been throwing at them of late. When the mother came back to shore with the seal kill the cub, in that short period of time, had learned an invaluable lesson on how to hunt without the benefit of an ice pan and an important lesson in survival. A lesson to be passed on...