20 Jul '11, 2pm

Longer swims, caused by melting ice, may cause problems for polar bears

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Polar bears forced to swim longer distances because of diminished sea ice off Alaska's coast may be paying a price in lost cubs or precious calories, according to a study by the US Geological Survey. The study reviewed data from female polar bears in the Chukchi and southern Beaufort seas that wore GPS collars and took swims of at least 50 kilometers between 2004 and 2009. Eleven were mothers with cubs. In six cases, dependent cubs survived the swim when they were spotted again two months to a year later. But five cases, cubs could not be located after the long-distance swim. USGS research zoologist George Durner said Tuesday that researchers cannot say for sure that the missing cubs drowned, but the evidence suggests long-distance swimming may be risky. "For me, it raises my eyebrows to see the differences in mortality rates in cubs," he said. "I wish ...

Full article: http://www.todayonline.com/World/EDC110720-0000149/Long-d...

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