Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences
Thursday, November 3, 2016

Polar Bear Season

CIRES heads to Canada for the annual gathering of polar bears

CIRES Fellow Jen Kay is headed north, to the Arctic tundra near Churchill, Canada, just in time to see the local polar bears as they congregate on the shores of Hudson Bay. Each year around this time, hundreds of bears convene at the water’s edge, waiting for sea ice to form so they can use the ice as a platform to hunt seals, their primary food source.

This will be Kay’s fourth trip to Churchill during polar bear season and she’ll be there for a week. She’s also joined by three of her CIRES colleagues: Education and Outreach’s Anne Gold; CIRES, ATOC Ph.D. student Ariel Morrison, and ATLAS graduate student Barbara MacFerrin. Their trip is funded by a grant awarded to Kay as a National Science Foundation CAREER Award recipient, as well as from start-up funds awarded to Kay by the University of Colorado/CIRES. The CU team will be working with Polar Bears International—a nonprofit organization that aspires to conserve polar bears and the sea ice they rely on.

The goal of the trip is to develop educational materials for students at the University of Colorado Boulder and high school classrooms across Colorado.  The group will also be speaking with two Colorado classrooms in Greeley and Boulder.

Over the next week, we’ll be checking in with the team, and sharing some of the amazing stories, images, and videos they collect. We’ll have more about their trip when they return, in mid-November. In the meantime, we’ll be posting photos daily to the CIRES Twitter and Facebook feeds. And if you need even more of a polar bear fix, you can go to to see a streaming live feed of polar bears out on the tundra!