Different types of seals have different lifestyles and each one of them accumulates more or less chemical contamination in their meat. Scientists have studied the eating habits of Greenland polar bears between 1984 and 2011 and found that they ate 42% less ringed seal, the cleanest prey.
Now, polar bears eat more Greenland seals and hooded seals, species whose meat has higher levels of persistent organic pollutants, as they are larger than ringed seals and higher up the food chain. In addition, they are sub-arctic seals, that is, they move further south, closer to industrialized countries and are more in contact with the pollution that these produce.
Scientists believe that the change in diet is related to the weather, as warmer years cause bears to change the type of seals they eat. Now they find more sub-arctic seals, more contaminated. This change in diet can have consequences for your health, scientists say.
To eat or not to eat
The Arctic sea ice is melting and bears will find it more difficult to catch ringed and hooded seals, as they use the ice as a platform to raise their cubs. If this continues, the bears will have more and more difficulties to catch these prey, which, although contaminated, at least, is food. Thus, the possibilities are dire: do not eat or eat contaminated seals. Only if they return to eat more ringed seals will the problem be solved.