Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 28 Issue 01

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Volume 28, No. 1
Pages 10 - 13

RIPPLE MARKS • Last of the Ice Bears? Climate Change Threatens Iconic Polar Bears' Food Sources

Cheryl Lyn Dybas
First Paragraph

In 1773, King George III of England appointed naval officer Constantine John Phipps to command an Arctic expedition. Phipps was dispatched to search for a passage to the Pacific Ocean. Instead, on the ice fields near Spitsbergen (now Svalbard), Norway, he found polar bears. The explorer was the first to describe the bears as a distinct species, Ursus maritimus.

Were he to undertake the journey today, Phipps would spot polar bears not on sea ice, but wandering along rocky shorelines, searching for frozen water.


Dybas, C.L. 2015. Ripple marks—The story behind the story. Oceanography 28(1):10–13, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2015.22.