PlanetWideNews–October 14, 2015 by T.R. Dasum
What’s 60-feet long, motorized, chases seals, and has a polar bear at the helm?
The answer is not a joke. It’s a POBMAV (Polar Bear Maritime Assist Vehicle), the newest attempt to help polar bears.
“Polar bears’ shrinking habitat is causing them to spend more time swimming in open water with no rest, finding less food, dying from exhaustion and inching toward extinction,” said Rudolph Crest, the naturalist/inventor who created the POBMV concept. “We wanted to find a way for polar bears to expand their hunting grounds and habitat.”
Crest said a POBMAV is essentially a hunting boat for polar bears. It’s equipped with drone-boat guidance technology, allowing it to navigate to known polar bear habitats on its own. Once there, it emits the smell of seals, polar bear’s favorite food, and the sounds of seals barking.
Bears swim up to the POBMAV, which is designed to be easy for bears to jump up on to, and they board with little hesitation, looking for the source of the seal barking and seal smells.
Once enough bears are aboard, the ship automatically heads toward fertile hunting grounds at a faster speed than polar bears can swim. This way bears can reach areas that are much too far away for them to swim to.
“When we started the project, we asked ourselves if polar bears would stay on a moving boat, and would they share the space with other bears,” explained Crest. “The answer to both questions is a resounding yes.”
“We found that polar bears aren’t bothered by being on a moving boat,” Crest continued. “They instinctively know that an ocean current heading their way will save them time and energy. We’d hoped it would feel to them like they’re riding on floating ice that’s caught in a fast current. Also, the boat is supplied with seal blubber pellets that are automatically dispensed at regular intervals. Waiting for the next pellets helps keep them on the boat.”
Polar bears rarely catch seals in open water. Instead, they catch them at the interface between air, water and ice, particularly when seals are hunting for fish under the ice and need to come up in air holes to breath. Once the POBMAV reaches areas rich in seals, it weighs anchor and the bears jump off and go ashore to look for seals.
“As to being on a boat with other bears, whereas Polar bears don’t normally hunt in packs, historically they have shared food,” Crest pointed out. “And of course 1,000 or more of them annually migrate together at Hudson Bay in Northern Manitoba. And a few years back, 20 bears were found living on an iceberg together. They are a very adaptable species.”
“Our test POBMAV made five trips to seal hunting grounds, taking a total of 27 bears,” Crest said. “It had enough fuel to make one round trip, then it was refueled and resupplied, and headed back with more bears. Because of the success of the first POBMAV, we are planning to make more boats, including ones that can hold a larger number of bears, and can double as a home away from home. This may be the greatest example ever of technology helping nature.”
“All POBMAV boats will have web cams that allows the world to watch the bears’ adventures,” Crest said. “And we think this will definitely motivate commercial sponsors to support the project. We expect Coca Cola to sponsor one the boats.”
In addition to drone-boat guidance technology, the POBMAV will eventually utilize the most advanced science, including solar and wind power, an evaporation system to distill sea water into fresh water, drone-boat or drone-plane refueling/resupplying (when necessary) and automatic retractable sails.
And because a boat full of Polar Bears could potentially be a target for poachers, each POBMAVs will be equipped with ability to defend itself against encroachment by hunters.