Tracking in a changing world
Every now and then we find Polar Bears with a collar. Not the most photogenic bears, but it’s for a good cause. These collars contain a satellite tracking system which allow scientists to follow these bears. This gives us a great insight into the movement of bears throughout the year. The only disadvantage is that only females can be tagged like this, as the neck of a male is thicker as the head, which means the collar will fall off easily. In a (successful) effort to make science more available to the general public some of these satellite tagged bears are also visible on the internet. The World Wildlife Fund has a special Polar Bear tracker website where you can follow them nearly real time. It’s really interesting to see the movements of these animals. Most animals have a relatively small home range, but some bears migrate large distances. This year one bear almost made it to the North Pole (well, still had 300km to go), while last year a bear moved from Spitsbergen to Frans Joseph Land, to Novaya Zemlya, to the New Siberian Islands and back to Frans Joseph land. She covered over 3000km in less as a year. Really remarkable and something we would never have known if not for those ‘ugly collars’.