Wildlife filmmaker Adam Ravetch, known for this work on The Arctic Tale and The Nature of Things, Polar Bear: A Summer Odyssey, has broken a new barrier in polar bear videography.
He's equipped polar bears with special cameras wrapped around their necks to capture the first 'point of view' video of a polar bear on sea ice. (see the raw camera footage below) The camera system was designed by Mehdi Bakhtiari, an inventive electrical engineer who refined the “Crittercam” for National Geographic. The footage is being collected as part of a research project run by Anthony Pagano, a United States Geological Survey biologist (read more).
Ravetch says the camera is a game changer, "it has long-term record time (we are up to 130 hours right now), can track GPS, stay on animals for months on end, program to record on and off at any time the scientist wants, and then also program the camera to release on a given day and time to be able to retrieve it."
The camera is also an important research tool for scientists. Despite decades of helicopter surveys, field research and satellite-monitored tags, much of what polar bears do in the Arctic is a mystery. The new footage of bear behaviour allows scientists to see and learn what bears are actually doing over time to accurately document the true life of a polar bear. Already they've learned that polar bears gorge on berries during the summer, a departure from the long held belief that polar bears exist mainly on marine mammals. Is their diet changing to adapt to a warming climate?
Ravetch says that he's always wanted to make a contribution to the visual national history archive of polar bears and that this project is like "a dream come true."
You can learn more about the project and support Ravetch's work at his non-profit organization, The Arctic Exploration Fund.