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Old 07-03-2011, 09:16 PM
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How would polar bears fare in the antarctic?

Have their been any scientific or speculative studies done about how polar bears would fare if they were released into the antarctic? Any discourse on how the ecology would be impacted by introducing this exotic species into that particular niche?

(Mods, I'm not putting this in IMHO because I am interested in finding actual research on the topic, though I'd welcome doper speculation on it too.)
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Old 07-03-2011, 09:23 PM
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I am unaware of any studies. However, I think polar bears would do well in some parts of the Antarctic where they could have access to seals at breathing holes. However, I'm sure they would be extremely destructive to penguin colonies and other seabird colonies, which evolved their behaviors in the absence of land predators.
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Old 07-03-2011, 09:41 PM
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Ok, thanks.

Is it wrong of me to want to sneak some polar bears down there, and just see how things work out? I promise I won't let it get out of hand like the cane toads in Australia or kudzu in the southern US.
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Old 07-03-2011, 09:44 PM
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They'd make out like bandits, because of (a) an abundant supply of tasty and (on land) slow moving penguins, and (b) the absence of a settled human population.
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Old 07-03-2011, 09:49 PM
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I suppose you could introduce sterilized polar bears, just to see what happens.
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Old 07-03-2011, 10:15 PM
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Keep in mind that Antarctica is far colder than the Arctic due to one being land and the other ocean. But I'm sure they'd do OK on the coast, and that's where all the food is anyway.
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Old 07-03-2011, 11:32 PM
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As a side note, the use of sled dogs has been banned in Antarctica because of the havoc a feral population would inflict on bird colonies.
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Old 07-03-2011, 11:34 PM
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As a side note, the use of sled dogs has been banned in Antarctica because of the havoc a feral population would inflict on bird colonies.
But...but...that would call into question the entire opening sequence of John Carpenter's The Thing! Say it ain't so!

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Old 07-03-2011, 11:45 PM
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One of my favourite trivia questions is: why do polar bears not eat penguins? It's surprising how few know the answer.

This leads to a question I've idly wondered about many times: has any polar bear ever eaten a penguin?
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Old 07-03-2011, 11:46 PM
Nunavut Boy Nunavut Boy is offline
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On a related note, I've often wondered what would happen if I imported penguins to Nunavut. Could they survive? Or would the polar bears eat them all? What if I made a fenced off, protected area for them?

Last edited by Nunavut Boy; 07-03-2011 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:43 AM
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There have been releases of penguins in the Northern Hemisphere, sometimes by the crews of fishing vessels, sometimes by legitimate (if probably misguided) biologists. I can't say if any were eaten by polar bears.

http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1676/05-130.1
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0605185637.htm
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:53 AM
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This leads to a question I've idly wondered about many times: has any polar bear ever eaten a penguin?
The original bird that was called a "penguin" was the extinct Great Auk, and they certainly were occasionally eaten by polar bears.

When similar flightless black-and-white birds were found in the Southern Hemisphere the name was transferred to them.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Nunavut Boy View Post
On a related note, I've often wondered what would happen if I imported penguins to Nunavut. Could they survive? Or would the polar bears eat them all? What if I made a fenced off, protected area for them?
Making a fence that can keep out a polar bear would be difficult. They're incredibly strong. But even if you did, penguins have to feed at sea where they'd be vulnerable to the bears.


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Originally Posted by Colibri
However, I think polar bears would do well in some parts of the Antarctic where they could have access to seals at breathing holes.
Do seals actually live in the Antarctic?
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:59 AM
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Do seals actually live in the Antarctic?
Indeed they do. Leopard seals, in fact, are the principal predator of the penguin.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:59 AM
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Do seals actually live in the Antarctic?
Yes, at least six species.

Last edited by Colibri; 07-04-2011 at 01:01 AM.
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Old 07-04-2011, 02:18 AM
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That would make them bi-polar bears, requiring therapy and being shot with darts filled with lithium.
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Old 07-04-2011, 02:47 AM
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But...but...that would call into question the entire opening sequence of John Carpenter's The Thing! Say it ain't so!
No, that just means that all of the dogs you saw at the base were Things.
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Old 07-04-2011, 02:58 AM
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You got yourself a fish biscuit!
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Old 07-04-2011, 08:25 AM
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Here's a previous short thread on the subject.
I remember there was at least one more old thread (about suitable Arctic habitat shrinking, I think) including posts about introducing polar bears on Kerguelen but it seems to have disappeared.
iirc several people argued that it was a bad idea.

And dogs were only banned from Antarctica in 1994, 12 years after John Carpenter's film was made...
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Old 07-04-2011, 08:28 AM
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One of my favourite trivia questions is: why do polar bears not eat penguins? It's surprising how few know the answer.
They can't get the wrappers off.
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by bibliophage View Post
There have been releases of penguins in the Northern Hemisphere, sometimes by the crews of fishing vessels, sometimes by legitimate (if probably misguided) biologists. I can't say if any were eaten by polar bears.

http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1676/05-130.1
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0605185637.htm
Fascinating! Thanks!
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:29 AM
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I suppose you could introduce sterilized polar bears, just to see what happens.
It'll end badly because life........will........err.......find a way
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:44 AM
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That would make them bi-polar bears, requiring therapy and being shot with darts filled with lithium.
Wasn't Bi-polar Bear a super hero on "The Tick"?
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:51 AM
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Wasn't Bi-polar Bear a super hero on "The Tick"?
"This is a job for Bi-Polar Bear!!! if i could only get out of bed."
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:57 PM
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Q: What's a polar bear?
A: A rectangular bear after a coordinate transform.
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Old 07-05-2011, 09:43 AM
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I wonder if a) the Antarctic winter is too rough for a Polar Bear, and b) there is enough habitable coast to keep up a population. From a bear's point of view, the Arctic is basically all coast, straight through the pole, but Antarctica is mostly barren, uninhabitable (by pretty much anything) ice on top of rock, far from an ocean.

In the short term, though, I imagine the penguin population would be devestated. I wouldn't worry about a penguin at sea -- bears can swim, but they're not really good at catching things in the water, especially compared to a leopard seal-- but on land they seem like walking, or waddling, bear snacks.
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Old 07-05-2011, 09:58 AM
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Indeed they do. Leopard seals, in fact, are the principal predator of the penguin.
Plus, if the bears don't know how to catch the penguins, the seals would be more than willing to teach them.
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Old 07-05-2011, 10:08 AM
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As a side note, the use of sled dogs has been banned in Antarctica because of the havoc a feral population would inflict on bird colonies.
Banned by whom? Not all of Antarctica is claimed by a country, and those claims which exist aren't universally recognized. There are some international treaties concerning Antarctica, but again, not all countries are signatories. I'm not aware of any police or military force on Antarctica that would be in a position to enforce such a ban.
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Old 07-05-2011, 10:17 AM
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I initially read the thread title as "How would polar bears fart in the antarctic?

Hmm...is it so cold that the farts would drop to the ice making little clinking sounds? And would this limit the effect on global warming?
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Old 07-05-2011, 10:19 AM
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I initially read the thread title as "How would polar bears fart in the antarctic?

Hmm...is it so cold that the farts would drop to the ice making little clinking sounds? And would this limit the effect on global warming?
I don't think it would freeze, but the wind would come out counterclockwise.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:41 AM
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I'm not aware of any police or military force on Antarctica that would be in a position to enforce such a ban.
They've resisted creating one, out of concern that it might turn feral and attack the bird population.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:51 AM
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They've resisted creating one, out of concern that it might turn feral and attack the bird population.
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Old 07-05-2011, 01:22 PM
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Banned by whom? Not all of Antarctica is claimed by a country, and those claims which exist aren't universally recognized. There are some international treaties concerning Antarctica, but again, not all countries are signatories. I'm not aware of any police or military force on Antarctica that would be in a position to enforce such a ban.
They are banned according to the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (1991).

Quote:
Article 4

2 Dogs shall not be introduced onto land or ice shelves and dogs currently in those areas shall be removed by April 1, 1994.
Actually, the primary reason was to prevent canine distemper from infecting the seal populations, although concerns about their impacts on other wildlife no doubt played a part.

Forty-six countries (not just those with territorial claims) are signatories to the Antarctic treaties (although I am not certainly that every one is a party to the Environmental Protocol). While there is probably no formal mechanism to enforce the ban, most countries with any capability to establish a base in Antarctica are signatories and could enforce the ban on their own nationals. Any country that was not a signatory would no doubt be subjected to international pressure not to violate the ban.

Last edited by Colibri; 07-05-2011 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 07-05-2011, 01:25 PM
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I wonder if a) the Antarctic winter is too rough for a Polar Bear, and b) there is enough habitable coast to keep up a population. From a bear's point of view, the Arctic is basically all coast, straight through the pole, but Antarctica is mostly barren, uninhabitable (by pretty much anything) ice on top of rock, far from an ocean.
There's probably enough land on the Antarctic Peninsula to support a significant bear population, at least until they had wiped out the bird colonies.
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Old 07-05-2011, 01:56 PM
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No, that just means that all of the dogs you saw at the base were Things.
Huh. That's actually a really, really grim view of the movie - what if the crashed spaceship was just a fluke, and the Thing had actually been assimilating humanity for years before the events of the film, with no one the wiser? Perhaps the characters in the movie aren't the *first* humans to fight it, but very nearly the last. They can't save the world, because unbeknownst to them, the world is already long since lost. Nothing at all they do can mitigate the horror even the slightest bit.
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Old 07-05-2011, 02:10 PM
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As long as the bears wear a little mask the penguins will be none the wiser.

Last edited by Gedd; 07-05-2011 at 02:11 PM.
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Old 07-05-2011, 04:14 PM
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I suppose you could introduce sterilized polar bears, just to see what happens.
It'll end badly because life........will........err.......find a way
One problem would be the bacteria in the polar bears' guts, which are not native to the area. Bears die, bodies rot, can the bacteria survive? And what would they do to the local penguin, seal, and fish populations?

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Q: What's a polar bear?
A: A rectangular bear after a coordinate transform.
Works better if you call it an X-Y bear, instead of rectangular. I LOLed, anyway.

Last edited by Cheshire Human; 07-05-2011 at 04:18 PM.
  #38  
Old 07-05-2011, 10:25 PM
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are people implying that the great auk extinction never happened?
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:30 PM
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are people implying that the great auk extinction never happened?
What did you draw that conclusion from?
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:49 PM
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Wasn't Bi-polar Bear a super hero on "The Tick"?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queer_Duck
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Bi-Polar Bear (voiced by Ren & Stimpy and Futurama actor Billy West, in the style of Paul Lynde) is one of Queer Duck's friends. He often makes bad jokes that he alone finds funny. This character is not to be confused with a character called Bi-Polar Bear from The Tick.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:58 PM
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One of my favourite trivia questions is: why do polar bears not eat penguins? It's surprising how few know the answer.
Some people may interpret that as asking why a polar bear would not eat a penguin that was brought to it.
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Old 07-06-2011, 12:07 AM
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What did you draw that conclusion from?
there could not have been a penguin population with bears around. or am i simplifying things?
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