Saturday Morning Documentary: Polar Bear, Spy On the Ice

20 03 2011

I’m sure I don’t have to explain what a polar bear is: vicious white bears who kill seals!  Also, the cubs are adorable.  According to yet another BBC produced documentary called Polar Bear, Spy on the Ice polar bears have not been captured on film very much in the wild and a lot of their behaviour is still not completely known.  Scientists have built a variety of different spy cameras ranging from “Snowball cam,” a spherical camera that is “almost indestructible”, “iceberg cam,” which is exactly as it sounds — a camera mounted on a small, fake iceberg to follow the bears in the water or on icebergs at sea, and my favourite one, “blizzard cam,” a camera propelled by two propellers on a set of skis that allow the entire camera to travel to 40 miles per hour.  Pretty darn cool.

On the islands of Svalbard in Norway, these cameras — no humans — are placed, waiting for the bears to come out of hibernation as they make their way onto the drifting sea ice in search of food during the upcoming summer.  The bears have to hurry though; once the ice melts away, the distance will be too far to swim to the icebergs and bears that don’t make it on the ice will be stranded on land where food is harder to come by.  The documentary follows two families of bears: a mother with a cub and another mother with two cubs.  One of them gets left on the island while the other makes it onto the icebergs.

What the documentary finds is the bears being extremely curious to the cameras, showing remarkable intelligence, and showing the differences between the two polar bear families and survival strategies.  Nonetheless, there are lots and lots of the obligatory shots of super cute polar bear cubs.  And in HD, the entire documentary looks fantastic.

Blizzard cam

Mother and her cub, stranded on Svalbard