Getting up close and personal with a wild polar bear is a daring feat -- unless you have the right camera equipment.
In April, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey strapped cameras around the necks of four female polar bears living on the sea ice north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and released some of the footage on Friday.
The video shows a female polar bear hunting and devouring a seal, interacting with a potential mate and swimming at the water’s surface. The clip -- a kind of polar bear video “selfie” -- is the first point-of-view footage of the Arctic predator ever obtained.
Researchers hope that by studying polar bears in this way, they can better understand how the threatened species is responding to sea ice loss due to global warming.
Since 1978, Arctic ice has shrunk by 12 percent per decade. This year’s maximum winter ice coverage was the fifth-lowest peak in 36 years.
The lowest winter maximum on record occurred in 2011 and measured 14.63 million square kilometers, roughly 900,000 square kilometers shy of the previous 30-year mean.
Polar bears rely on the ice to reach their primary food source: seals. Without it, polar bears are forced to find alternative food sources that don’t provide the same source of nourishment as fatty seals.
Watch the polar bear selfie video, uploaded to YouTube, here: