The ice caps are melting affecting the hunting grounds for polar bears that have been seen to feed on star fish and opportunistically catching caribou. The expansion of humans has seen caribou populations restricted to smaller areas increasing their density making them easier for polar bears to catch. This change in the feeding behaviour of polar bears is an encouraging sign as they may not be able to hunt their main prey (seals) in the future. However, whether a diet of star fish is enough for a large polar bear only time will tell.
“Polar bears have been observed opportunistically eating waterfowl, eggs and caribou in other areas of the Arctic, suggesting that the increased availability of these foods is likely the cause for bears eating more of them, not necessarily because of nutritional deficits caused by climate change,” Gormezano said. While the scientists have revealed encouraging news that the polar bears do not need to fast during the warmer seasons, it is unclear how they will cope in the long run. “At this point, we do not know how polar bears’ diets will change as a result of climate change,” Gormezano said, adding “however, the fact that polar bears possess the plasticity in their foraging behavior to adjust to changing food availability on land is encouraging.”