6/6/2014 7:26:32 PM

Polar Bear Selfies (Well, Almost)

Have you ever wondered how the world looks to a polar bear ambling across the sea ice or swimming from floe to floe? The U.S. Geological Survey has released fascinating new point of view footage that allows us to see the Arctic through a polar bear's eyes.

The unique footage comes courtesy of four female polar bears equipped with video camera collars. Scientists applied the collars this past April to polar bears on the sea ice north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The collars stay on the bears for roughly eight to ten days.

"We deployed two video cameras in 2013, but did not get any footage because the batteries weren't able to handle the Arctic temperatures," said Dr. Todd Atwood, research leader for the USGS Polar Bear Research Program. "We used different cameras this year, and we are thrilled to see that the new cameras worked."

While the footage has a gee-whiz factor that tempts viewers to watch again and again, its primary purpose is its scientific value. The video will provide scientists with a better understanding of the daily activity patterns of polar bears, including how much time they spend hunting, eating, walking and swimming. Scientists will also be able to track how these patterns are affected by sea ice conditions and other variables. 

Anthony Pagano, a USGS research biologist and University of California Santa Cruz PhD student, is leading the study.

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