Dr. Martyn Obbard
Marty's recent Polar Bear research is focused on those bears living in James Bay, the southernmost continuously occupied area in the Polar Bear range. Bears from the Southern Hudson Bay sub-population spend the winter on the ice of eastern Hudson Bay and James Bay and the ice-free season on land along the Ontario coast from the Manitoba border to the northern reaches of James Bay, the various islands in James Bay and eastern Hudson Bay, and to a lesser extent along the Quebec coast of eastern Hudson Bay.
The number of bears in the sub-population appears to have remained stable at about 950, but their body condition has declined significantly in parallel with declines in the duration of the ice-covered season. The bears now spend a full month longer on land than they did in 1980. Changes to the sea ice regime are happening rapidly in James Bay so it is important to document how this is affecting Polar Bears which are so dependent on sea ice for many aspects of their life history including mating and gaining the energy stores needed for growth, maintenance, reproduction and to survive the ice-free season.