The changes faced by Arctic animals due to the global warming are huge. Loss of sea ice, increasing temperatures, invading species, and dietary changes pose a considerable threat to the iconic polar bear and other marine mammals like beluga whales. This high Arctic whale species spends its summers foraging the Arctic Ocean. Now they have to dive deeper and longer to find food compared to earlier years according to a new study by scientists from the University of Washington.
Narwhals are very elusive and mysterious marine mammals. Scientists only know little about their lifestyles and behaviors due to their geographical range. As true ice loving mammals, narwhals spend most of their time around the edge of the Arctic pack ice. Only in certain times, they swim along shorelines. Now, a team of researchers has found an astonishing and seemingly contradictive behavior. When escaping from humans, narwhals don’t just freeze or flee. They do both.
Bowhead whales are one of the most elusive and mysterious whale species in the Arctic, despite its size. Hunted almost to extinction, these huge baleen whales have made a tremendous comeback and are found now in many Arctic areas close to the ice edge. Now, researcher from the University of British Columbia have found a new and surprising behavior of bowheads in Nunavut, Canada.
Climate change seems to be driving a tiny fish species northward as Arctic waters grow warmer thanks to climate change — and they're getting gobbled up by whales that would normally find larger fish more tantalizing. But not only whales are after that tiny prey, also fish that used to be on the whale’s menu profit from the new resource.
The Norwegian Polar Institute counted 1374 Svalbard reindeer in the Adventdalen around Longyearbyen this year. Many calves were observed and only a few dead reindeer found. This is a trend that has been observed for years: The reindeer population has been growing slightly in this region for years.
Narwhals are amongst the most mysterious marine mammals known. Although the species has been known for centuries and has been exploited by humans, only little is known about their ecology. Especially the tusk has spurred human fantasy. Now, Canadian fisheries researchers were able to show by video footage for the very first time that narwhal bulls use their tusks for fishing.
The mixing or hybridization between polar and brown bears appears to be easier than previously expected. Senckenberg scientists have sequenced the entire genomes of four bear species, making it now possible to analyze the evolutionary history of all bears at the genome level. It shows that gene flow, or gene exchange, between species by extensive hybridization, is possible between most bear species - not only polar and brown bear. The DNA samples of different bear species came from different European zoos, underlining their importance not only for conservation, but also for research. The study published today in "Nature Scientific Reports" also questions the existing species concept in general, because other genome studies too have, frequently found gene flow among species.
Being a young guillemot chick is quite hard. Growing up on a small ledge on high cliffs in the Arctic, surrounded by thousands of birds, being prey for gulls, foxes and even polar bears is quite stressful. But even worse, the little ones have to jump down into the water before their wings can support them for flight. This behavior has puzzled scientists for a long time. Now, an answer may have been found.
Svalbard is like the entire Arctic in a nutshell. Especially, reindeer, which are often portrayed as pulling Santa's sleigh, are an iconic species. The Svalbard reindeer is smaller and more sturdy than the average mainland reindeer. Now, ecologists have found that exactly these Svalbard reindeer are shrinking due to the impact of climate change on their food supplies.
The critically endangered western gray whale population that feeds in Russia's Far East waters is slowly showing signs of recovery, but their numbers and range are still at risk from industry activity in the region, according to a new report. Over the last 12 years, Sakhalin Energy has made important efforts to limit the impact of its operations on whales and the fragile environment. During this period, the western gray whale population has grown 3-4% annually, from an estimated 115 animals in 2004 to 174 in 2015.