Philanthropic media organization explore.org is broadcasting its annual polar bear cam, which follows the bears’ migration near Churchill, Manitoba, a city dubbed the “Polar Bear Capital of the World.”
The live high-definition video streams deliver footage during daylight hours from multiple cameras and locations as captured on Tundra Buggies roving the tundra. The day’s highlights are replayed at night.
Explore.org hopes that the polar bear cams — made possible through partnerships with Polar Bears International (PBI) and Frontiers North Adventures (FNA) — will bring attention to the hardships the animals face due to global warming.
“The relationship between this polar bear population and the sea ice on Hudson Bay is one of the most clear illustrations of global climate change,” said John Gunter, president of FNA, whose Tundra Buggies allow the footage to be captured.
Higher temperatures cause sea ice in the Hudson Bay to break up earlier in the spring and form later in the fall, forcing polar bears to remain on land where they’re deprived of food and must subsist on stored energy reserves.
"In 2011, the polar bears near Churchill had to wait until early December to return to the sea ice — three weeks later than just 30 years ago," said PBI senior scientist Dr. Steve Amstrup. "As a result of reduced feeding opportunity, we are seeing thinner bears and poorer survival of cubs. Ultimately, all polar bears will disappear if the world continues to warm. But the most important thing to remember is that hope remains. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we can arrest the rise in temperatures and save polar bears from extinction."
In addition to the polar bear cams, explore.org is also broadcasting Tundra Connections, a live, interactive 15-part educational series featuring polar bear and environmental experts.
"We have an amazing collection of talent in Churchill this year, from polar bear and sea ice scientists, to filmmakers, conservationists, climate experts and biologists who work with other arctic species," said Barbara Nielsen, PBI’s director of communications. (Read interview with team members below.)
PBI has also created Actions with Impact, a place where people can commit to reducing their carbon footprints and interact with like-minded people across the globe.
The polar bear cams are the latest addition to explore.org’s Pears of the Planet collection, which were created to inspire people to protect the Earth. 12 months.
Check out a video and some of the photos from this year's polar bear migration below.