On 8 October 2009, a research team made up of scientists from the University of Wyoming, United States Geological Survey, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, participated in a live event from the U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Polar Sea, north of Barrow, Alaska. The research team and a high school teacher from California, Cristina Galvan, shared with participants information about the polar bear research they are conducting in the Beaufort Sea.
Approximately 200 K-12 students learned how polar bears spend most of their time on the sea ice-where they travel, hunt, and sometimes even give birth. However, during the summer the ice retreats northward and leaves some polar bears on shore for several months. These bears may not be able hunt and may face warmer temperatures than they do on the ice. The research team is investigating how the bears cope with these difficult conditions on shore, and try to determine if they possess adaptations similar to bears that hibernate in the winter. Knowing how polar bears adjust when living on shore, and why they may not be able to adjust will provide important information to indigenous people, U.S. and international management agencies, conservation groups, and policy maker's for addressing the polar bear's needs in the future.