The Polar Bear Scientists

Overview


Follow scientists as they scan the Alaskan wilderness for these magnificent creatures.
It is springtime on the North Slope of Alaska, and the U.S. Geological Survey team—the polar bear biologists Kristin Simac and Mike Lockhart—is gearing up for polar bear capturing. During a capture, all information is collected on the sea ice. The scientists locate bears from a helicopter, tranquilize them, give them tattoo ID numbers and tags, and collect data such as height, weight, and ...
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Overview


Follow scientists as they scan the Alaskan wilderness for these magnificent creatures.
It is springtime on the North Slope of Alaska, and the U.S. Geological Survey team—the polar bear biologists Kristin Simac and Mike Lockhart—is gearing up for polar bear capturing. During a capture, all information is collected on the sea ice. The scientists locate bears from a helicopter, tranquilize them, give them tattoo ID numbers and tags, and collect data such as height, weight, and body fat measurements and samples such as blood, hair, feces, and even teeth. All this information goes into a
large database studied by scientists such as Drs. Steven Amstrup and George Durner, the former and current leaders of the Polar Bear Research Project. For more than forty years, scientists have been capturing bears in order to get information. What has this information been telling scientists about polar bears and global warming?
 

 

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The full-color photographs are nothing short of stunning."--School Library Journal

"An informative, vicarious trip to the Arctic for polar bear enthusiasts and future scientists."--Booklist

Children's Literature - Elizabeth Young
Not about polar bears as scientists, but scientists studying and researching polar bears! Here, Lourie offers an in-depth look at what it takes to be part of a government research team in Alaska, gathering data and tracking polar bears. We are introduced to Dr. Steven Amstrup and his team, which even includes a helicopter pilot and mechanic, and learn about their tasks as they relate to the research and the roles they play in the capture of polar bears. The photographs are absolutely stunning. Since so few of us will ever experience these wonderful animals on a close and personal level, it is a real treat to see this intimate view of nature, as well as to see the respect shown to these magnificent bears by the scientists and crew. The message presented about polar bear research gets a bit tedious in places, and at times seems redundant. "Didn't I already read that before?" comes to mind every so often. The flow of the chapters is a bit confusing due to the placement of some photographs and change of text and background color. One needs to be fully engaged in order to not be distracted in this well-researched book in the "Scientists in the Field" series—a lot of information is packed into 80 pages! This book would fits well in the wildlife research, climate, biology, and career areas of a library. While not targeted to a primary grade audience, the attractive photographs may appeal to younger audiences, especially to those who enjoy bears of any kind bears. Following the text is a comprehensive glossary, a "Polar Bear Field Guide" that includes many facts not presented earlier in the book, a list of titles and websites for further study, and a thorough bibliography and index. This is sure to "capture" the interest of many and "release" the imagination for further investigations into this marvelous animal and rugged land. Reviewer: Elizabeth Young
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Since the 1960s, wildlife scientists have been studying Alaskan polar bears in their native habitat. Tracking aggressive wild animals via helicopter is a far cry from the stereotype vision of scientists working in a temperature-controlled laboratory. The narrative is a detailed description of such daily duties as chasing down the animals, tattooing them for future identification, weighing them, and drawing blood, all conducted in temperatures that can fall to minus 30°F. Nighttime chores include cleaning the instruments and repacking them for the next day. The full-color photographs are nothing short of stunning. They provide images of the animals staring up at the looming helicopter, mother bears with cubs, and scientists carefully and almost tenderly working on the sedated bears. Included throughout are facts about polar bears as well as the impact of global climate change on their chances for survival.—Frances E. Millhouser, formerly at Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA
Kirkus Reviews
For six weeks each summer, scientists in helicopters chase, dart, capture and tag polar bears on the southern Beaufort Sea near Barrow, Alaska, as part of a long-term study of their behavior. With photographs and real-time description of two such captures, Lourie (Arctic Thaw, 2007) details the searching, tracking, tranquilizing and hands-on measuring and marking that are part of this exciting field work. Some photographs serve as page backgrounds; others are insets with extensive captions. The busy design interferes with the immediacy of the author's account, interrupting it with sidebars and pictures of other trips. Before meeting the two scientists and pilot whose adventures lie at the center of this tangle, readers are introduced to other players: the mechanic who follows the field work in real time on his computer in Barrow and the former and current heads of the project. Between the chapters are four conversations with Dr. Steven Amstrup, former lead scientist, including two about global climate change. The book concludes with a page of polar-bear facts. Readers may give up trying to follow the narrative argument and concentrate on Lourie's stunning pictures of this remarkable creature and its beautiful, icy world. With more emphasis on the science work than the scientists, this entry in the usually excellent Scientists in the Field series disappoints. (glossary, suggested books and websites, sources, index). (Nonfiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547283050
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 1/10/2012
  • Series: Scientists in the Field Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 80
  • Sales rank: 570,857
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Lexile: NC1260L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Peter Lourie is the author and photographer of Whaling Season,which received two starred reviews, and The Manatee Scientists.  Peter lives in Vermont with his family and he is an avid traveler.  He visited Alaska numerous times to write and shoot photos for The Polar Bear Scientists and has been traveling to Africa to work on his next book about the Leakey family.

Visit Peter Lourie's website at http://www.peterlourie.com/ .

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