Polar bears seen eating an unprecedented meal of dolphins

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Polar Bears Seen Eating An Unprecedented Meal Of Dolphins

The list of animals that polar bears consider prey is long, but up until recently it wasn't known to include white-beaked dolphins.

A team of scientists working in icy Svalbard, Norway in 2014 captured photos of the bears feasting on the marine mammals, a food choice that isn't believed to have a very long history.

Clearly, it's not that polar bears don't like them -- one was even seen freezing leftovers for later.

The new behavior is more likely a matter of dolphins not typically being present in the more northerly part of the Svalbard waters. That's particularly true in the spring, which is when the behavior was first observed.

It's believed a group of them traveled a bit too far north and became trapped in the ice.

As they couldn't easily or quickly leave the area, it's probable that they had to come to the surface for air.

Polar bears, being highly opportunistic hunters, quickly used the situation to their advantage.

What's not typical behavior for the bears is storing what they don't finish.

Says Jon Aars of the Norwegian Polar Institute said, "We think he caught the second dolphin because he could, and then had extra food later."

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Nela and Nobby, polar bear cubs
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Polar bears seen eating an unprecedented meal of dolphins
Twin polar bear cubs Nela and Nobby play in their enclosure at the Hellabrunn zoo in Munich, southern Germany, Monday, April 7, 2014. The cubs were born on Dec. 9, 2013. Today they received their names. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Twin polar bear cubs Nela and Nobby play next to their mother Giovanna in their enclosure at the Hellabrunn zoo in Munich, southern Germany, Monday, April 7, 2014. The cubs were born on Dec. 9, 2013. On Monday they received their names. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Twin polar bear cubs Nela and Nobby play in their enclosure at the Hellabrunn zoo in Munich, southern Germany, Monday, April 7, 2014. The cubs were born on Dec. 9, 2013. Today they received their names. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
One of the polar bear twin cubs plays in their enclosure at Hellabrunn zoo in Munich, southern Germany, Monday, April 7, 2014. The cubs were born on Dec. 9, 2013. On Monday they received their names Nela and Nobby. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Twin polar bear cubs Nela and Nobby play in their enclosure at the Hellabrunn zoo in Munich, southern Germany, Monday, April 7, 2014. The cubs were born on Dec. 9, 2013. Today they received their names. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Twin polar bear cubs Nela and Nobby play in their enclosure at the Hellabrunn zoo in Munich, southern Germany, Monday, April 7, 2014. The cubs were born on Dec. 9, 2013. Today they received their names. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
One of the 16-weeks-old polar bear twins plays in his enclosure in the zoo in Munich Hellabrunn, southern Germany, on April 7 , 2014. The two little polar bear cups were born in the zoo of Munich on December 9, 2013 and were baptized Nobby and Nela on April 7, 2014. AFP PHOTO/CHRISTOF STACHE (Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
ALTERNATIVE CROP - One of the 16-weeks-old polar bear twins drinks from a water puddle in their enclosure in the zoo in Munich Hellabrunn, southern Germany, on April 7 , 2014. The two little polar bear cups were born in the zoo of Munich on December 9, 2013 and were baptized Nobby and Nela on April 7, 2014. AFP PHOTO/CHRISTOF STACHE (Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
The 16-weeks-old polar bear twins Nobby and Nola walk alongside their mother Giovanna in their enclosure in the zoo in Munich Hellabrunn, southern Germany, on April 7 , 2014. The two little polar bear cups were born in the zoo of Munich on December 9, 2013 and were baptized Nobby and Nela on April 7, 2014. AFP PHOTO/CHRISTOF STACHE (Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
The 16-weeks-old polar bear twins Nobby and Nola play in their enclosure in the zoo in Munich Hellabrunn, southern Germany, on April 7 , 2014. The two little polar bear cups were born in the zoo of Munich on December 9, 2013 and were baptized Nobby and Nela on April 7, 2014. AFP PHOTO/CHRISTOF STACHE (Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
The 16-weeks-old polar bear twins Nobby and Nola play in their enclosure in the zoo in Munich Hellabrunn, southern Germany, on April 7 , 2014. The two little polar bear cups were born in the zoo of Munich on December 9, 2013 and were baptized Nobby and Nela on April 7, 2014. AFP PHOTO/CHRISTOF STACHE (Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Visitors watch the16-weeks-old polar bear twins Nobby and Nola cuddle with their mother Giovanna in their enclosure in the zoo in Munich Hellabrunn, southern Germany, on April 7 , 2014. The two little polar bear cups were born in the zoo of Munich on December 9, 2013 and were baptized Nobby and Nela on April 7, 2014. AFP PHOTO/CHRISTOF STACHE (Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
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