Polar Bears Adjust their Diet Because of Climate Change

March 1, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. prey /preɪ/ (n.) – an animal that serves as food for other animals
Example: A lion’s favorite prey is zebra.

2. stalk /stɔk/ (v.) – to follow silently, usually in hunting
Example: The hunter stalked the deer before shooting it.

3. resilient /rɪˈzɪlyənt, -ˈzɪliənt/ (adj.) – can easily recover or adjust from a bad situation
Example: The resilient bears endured the food shortage by eating berries.

4. elusive /ɪˈlusɪv/ (adj.) – hard to catch or find
Example: The fishermen spent a lot of time just to catch the elusive fish.

5. scarcity /ˈskɛərsɪti/ (n.) – the state of having very limited resources
Example: The scarcity of clean water is a huge problem among people living near deserts.


Read the text below.
American biologists say that Arctic [AHRK-tik] polar bears switch to alternative food as they face difficulty in hunting their usual prey.

Because of climate [KLAHY-mit] change, the ice chunks in the Arctic region are now melting more quickly than it did in the past years. Because of this rapid ice melting, polar bears struggle to get their favorite meal–baby seals.

Icy areas help polar bears stalk their prey, as seal pups are usually in the water. The bears often strike when the seals show their heads out of the water to breathe. But with the ice floors getting smaller, these predators have to find other sources of food.

This situation led to a study by American biologists that analyzed how polar bears adjust their diet. According to Robert Rockwell, one of the authors, polar bears are more resilient than expected.

Rockwell’s team gathered feces or bodily wastes of polar bears in Hudson Bay, Canada to identify what these animals eat. Results showed that plants were mainly present in the diet. The researchers also said that the bears seem to eat whatever is available in their surroundings. When seals are elusive, mothers and cubs eat berries while traveling in land areas, while adult males who often stay in shore [shohr] eat grass seeds.

While the authors were impressed by the bears’ diet adjustment, experts noted how unhealthy this habit could be. Some bears might eat risky materials like snow mobile [MOH-beel] seats, batteries, and even chemical fluids from vehicles.

Polar bears depend mainly on animal meat to survive. The adjustment may be good news, but it does not completely solve the bears’ problem of food scarcity.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What can the authorities do to help polar bears with their food problem?
·         Do you agree that the bears’ diet adjustment when food is scarce is not always good? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What do you think are the other effects of climate change?
·         How can the harmful effects of climate change be lessened?


March 1, 2014