Welcome Green Monsters! We're your online guide to making conscious choices that help people, animals and the planet.
Download food monster: the biggest, baddest, yummiest vegan food app!
Buy the #EatForThePlanet book
single

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR Newsletter

  GET FOOD MONSTER AppX

Polar bears have become the canary in the coal mine for the emerging problem of climate change. And while a changing climate threatens a variety of plant and animal species worldwide, it is the iconic face of the polar bear that has come to symbolize the plight of nature in the face of a damaged environment. An estimated 8.6 million acres of the polar bear’s native habitat disappear a year due to the rapidly warming temperature of the planet.

While there are many different factors at play at the loss of this ancient ice, greenhouse gas emissions associated with animal agriculture have been showed to play a major role in the loss of the polar bear’s home which is putting this species in dire straits. Polar bears rely on the ice to live and hunt for food, as we quickly melt away this habitat due to our greenhouse gas heavy diets, bears are being forced to sustain themselves in rather unusual ways.

Scientists have recently documented some shocking behavior exhibited by polar bears in Norway over the last year; several polar bears were seen consuming dolphins, an animal not typical in the bears’ diet. In total, scientists spotted six different polar bears feeding on the carcasses of white-beaked dolphins, and it appeared that the polar bears caught their prey when the dolphins surfaced in a hole in the ice pack and were then hauled out of the water by a hungry bear, just as they do with seals.

In addition to these new discoveries of a prey source for polar bears, scientists also noted a behavior that is not necessarily unheard of, but is still rare. Some of the polar bears had packed leftovers from their meals into the ice in an apparent effort to save it for later. Possibly a sign of concerns over food shortages for the bears?

What Do Dolphin Dinners Have to Do with Climate Change?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/20406121@N04/2221827943/in/photolist-4oks3k-9BRLuA-9jfDPb-ejFccN-94VaEn-94YbGb-7ZjPt5-6QhNTm-ejzt3p-bTvzBr-9jfCYE-pibwQM-5cpP51-aA4o58-bQfKke-e6tcnw-fV9WX-94V9Vp-4Z63nN-nuCPvp-mqucZe-8VrvDn-8u2ELb-7jvqop-mhUeUY-bYEMSJ-73R9WJ-mpqEnF-bTZGmv-mkfUCM-aM23pk-aHpeev-8FgAYi-8BDf2X-7LhQVo-4zXJA2-myBJrW-afQW6w-57gMxA-aJwvTP-8FjMvb-94Vbrk-94VbVT-75oh7U-c8pL99-c3z62A-Rphmr-6zX8Tn-jMNVS-9jNaoo/Flickr

 

Polar bears typically hunt and feed on seals, gaining a massive payout in the calories that seal fat provides. They are also known to scavenge carcasses of whales and walruses they may find. However, this new observed phenomenon of polar bears actively hunting dolphins is very concerning.

The white-beaked dolphins were only available as prey due to ecosystem changes on by warming ocean temperatures. Usually, the icy Norwegian waters would be too cold for these cetaceans until the late summer months,  but scientists speculate that a lack of sea ice in the region caused them to journey northward earlier. A lack of sea ice also makes for choppy seas and stronger currents which likely pushed the dolphins into the hungry paws of skinny polar bears.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/baleias/3770064816/in/photolist-6K9yVw-a9VDJu-adsMgD-a9VDQo-oyMPVy-a9SRvt-a9VDTs-ojTQMZ-8kP7JX-az4e3Y-an2tC5-qZ2WTt-an2s7j-amYD86-aA9jab-adsMiR-mJK3x2-72nFRc-9pmGew-oVrzwS-uzAdmQ-uw1Nub-uyy7yy-oZRVa2-fjRGDX-e5Ejuf-5gKKov-m7bT4w-6oVuTf-ff5PUn-rPZ572-aa18BL-aa17AE-p18hot-oHD7Dy-oHDaKx-oHCuoP-d9NTsT-oCNFea-oHCHa1-8LKteN-cJEYMW-dXMm5v-aa18MC-ojz3YJ-uyy9AE-uzcUiK-pZJjkx-p3WQzA-uBtonuFlickr

 

There are two points about this study that raise some major red flags: 1. Man-made greenhouse gases are warming ocean temperatures which is causing animals like dolphins to migrate farther north and 2. Polar bears are having to expand their diets to consider a variety of prey options is another. With less ice packs available for polar bears to hunt from, their chances of finding a seal den or a hole in the sea ice to catch a seal decreases – and then polar bears are forced to use what ice is left to hunt for anything, dolphins included, or swim longer distances in search of food and den locations elsewhere which can be extremely dangerous.

On one hand, we can praise the polar bear for its adaptability in a tough situation, but we must also recognize the detrimental impact that climate change is having on these animals, and the manner in which they are being backed into a corner to survive.

Misery Loves Company

Sadly, polar bears are not the only ones suffering because of climate change. And scientists agree that what’s happening to the polar bears is sure to happen to many other species as climate change progresses. This study is merely a microcosm of what is occurring on a larger scale in numerous ecosystems because of climate change.

Climate change has and will continue to have detrimental impacts on ecosystems around the world, harming wildlife and plants alike. Migrations of animals such as birds and butterflies are changing in response to warming temperatures. Biodiversity is threatened by climate change as species are forced to face temperatures they cannot adapt to. Increasing temperatures may also cause some parasites to migrate to cooler locales, and possibly even increase in numbers making them a larger threat to their hosts. And extinction is predicted to threaten up to a quarter of the earth’s species as a result of climate change by 2050. This is certainly spelling bad news for the plants and animals we are surround by, and it’s all because the ecosystems they inhabit are under threat.

NASA has made some startling claims about the impact of climate change on ecosystems around the world. By 2100, the organization claims that roughly 40 percent of land-based ecosystems will shift in type due to climate change. That is, a forest may become a grassland and a grassland a desert. Not only is this a problem for the billions of people around the world trying to sustain life in their communities, it is also a major threat to the world’s plant and animal species that rely on healthy and unaltered ecosystems to support them. We already can see how arctic ice is melting and polar bears are losing their own ecosystems. Imagine what is happening to countless other animals around the world also wrestling with climate change.

What Can You Do?

Now, you’re probably wondering what you can do to help polar bears and others animals being impacted by climate change. Unfortunately, this is a massive issue that governments, scientists, and environmental groups are struggling to get a handle on. However, you need not wait for any of these bodies to act before you can start impacting the environment in a positive way.

Little changes in your everyday life will make a world of difference for polar bears and other wildlife negatively impacted by climate change.

Leaving meat and other animal products off your plate is the single most effective thing you can do as an individual to help polar bears and other animals under threat by climate change. Ditch the dairy and pass on the pork, replacing them with sustainably grown vegetable-based foods. Not only is this a delicious and healthy choice for you, it is also incredibly effective at reducing your carbon footprint. Going from a meat-heavy diet to a vegan lifestyle can reduce your carbon emissions from food alone by over half! Check out these life saving tips for transitioning to a plant-based diet, and of course, this amazing database of over 5,000 kickass recipes for your daily installment of eco-friendly meals and snacks. While you’re at it, join in our #EatForThePlanet campaign to learn more about the amazing power of your food choices. 

Addressing the issues that are threatening polar bears and all wildlife may be a daunting and discouraging task, but when you get three chances a day to make a positive impact, suddenly this fight becomes much more manageable (and delicious!).

Lead image source: flickrfavorites/Flickr

Want to read more posts like this? Sign up for our newsletter below!​

Browse through some recent posts below:

The Humane Economy Is Coming: Here Are the 3 Biggest Opportunities in Vegan Food and Beyond

The Humane Economy Is Coming: Here Are the 3 Biggest Opportunities in Vegan Food and Beyond

You Guys – Big Oil Wants All Of Us to Pay to Protect It … From Itself

Derek and Chad Sarno to Launch New Plant-Based Meat Company and Turn Chicken Farmers Into Mushroom Growers

Derek and Chad Sarno to Launch New Plant-Based Meat Company and Turn Chicken Farmers Into Mushroom Farmers

The Bold Plan to Bring the Plant-Based Movement to a New Audience

The Bold Plan to Bring the Plant-Based Movement to a New Audience

Disclosure: One Green Planet accepts advertising, sponsorship, affiliate links and other forms of compensation, which may or may not influence the advertising content, topics or articles written on this site. Click here for more information.

0 comments on “There’s a Choice We Make Every day That’s Causing Polar Bears to Eat Dolphins”

Click to add comment
John Hagan
3 Years Ago

This isn\'t a problem, and anyone who has done their homework will see that this is marketing, not science. If, as they claim, polar bears are the "canary in the coalmine" then the evidence shows that there is no problem with climate change. These animals are flourishing and their populations are generally increasing as a whole.

As far as a change in their diet, that\'s just nonsense. Polar bears are opportunistic feeders, sometimes waiting for days near a hole in the ice waiting for a marine mammal to use it to breathe. They\'ve always taken seals, narwhals and belugas this way. The school of dolphin that these bears happened to find was unlucky, but there are many stories of this species of dolphin actually being trapped so completely that they actually freeze into the ice.


Reply
earl
3 Years Ago

Too many polar bears. We need to harvest the polar bears and eat polar bear steaks and burgers. That way we can save the dolphins


Reply
Aravind Suresh
09 Jul 2015

Actually, polar bears are carnivorous, and they tend to eat meat. The better way to save money and environment is to just reduce greenhouse gas.

RedRyderz
3 Years Ago

The reason polar bears are eating dolphins, is because there are now too many polar bears and they are using all their available normal food sources, so they are simply finding other animals to prey upon. We need to implement hunting seasons on polar bears to bring their populations in check to where they only eat the cute baby seals.


Reply
CharlieK
08 Jul 2015

Right!
Polar bears are omnivores;
just like most bears.
They will eat anything edible... Seals, dolphins, reindeers fruits, berries etc;
no news here!

user2015
3 Years Ago

I don\'t care. Stay away from my filet mignon and my pattern of consumption.


Reply
Russell Lee Cromwell
3 Years Ago

if anything is killing the planet its government. how many nuclear bombs have they blown up since WW2


Reply
Russell Lee Cromwell
3 Years Ago

liberals subject children to this drivel in order to brain wash them to believe that they are killing the planet.


Reply
CharlieK
08 Jul 2015

Right!
Our liberals are the greatest danger to our nation & the rest to the world.

Russell Lee Cromwell
3 Years Ago

how many liberals have been on a polar bears diet? probably not to many but if all the liberals decided to show up there then they would become the new food source


Reply
CharlieK
08 Jul 2015

Our liberals are too gullible they will take any article they see on the Internet at face value.
If they go up to the extreme north, say Spitsbergen, north of Siberia or northern Canada, they can be included in a polar bear diet.

Russell Lee Cromwell
3 Years Ago

if an elephant was walking around on the ice a polar bear would eat it to or at least try to. I don\'t think polar bears have eaten elephants in a 10,000 years maybe they get cravings but they tend to never run into one.


Reply
CharlieK
3 Years Ago


Like polar bears have not been eating marine animals before!
Are dolphins more worthy of our concerns than seals?


Reply
Dan The Denier
3 Years Ago

Is the author aware that polar bears, like all bears, are opportunity predators and will eat pretty much anything? I doubt that the sea lions are losing any sleep because these vicious animals now prefer dolphins. When this warming cycle is over, they can go back to eating the sea lions.


Reply
CharlieK
07 Jul 2015

Right!
Polar bears are omnivores; they eat anything that is edible;
dolphins, seals, reindeers, fruits, berries, etc.



Subscribe to our Newsletter




Follow us on


Do Not Show This Again

×

Submit to OneGreenPlanet


Terms & Conditions ×
  GET FOOD MONSTER APPX