Polar bears chasing ice trapped belugas

09 julio 2007

In the spring of 1999, a University of Saskatchewan biologist tracking polar bears on Baffin Island, discovered a group of more than two dozen bears gathered around a cluster of swimming pool-sized air holes in the solid sea ice. The holes turned out to be the only lifelines for some 75 whales that had been trapped more than 30 kilometres from open water by a sudden advance in the ice edge.

The Inuit have long known about this unique polar phenomenon, which they call a sassat, and appears to take place in early spring, when whales enter areas of unconsolidated or loose pack ice in search of food. The ice solidify very quickly, leaving the whales trapped and they become easy prey for polar bears. In 2003 "The Blue Planet" BBC Documentary included this memorable scene of trapped beluga whales. Now you can watch it in Youtube for the very first time:

See also: Breaking the Ice About Sassats