Carcasses washed up on island ‘not polar bears’
A TRIO OF carcasses washed up on the Island of Colonsay are not likely to be the remains of off-track polar bears stranded on an ice float – but are much more likely to be the remains of a deceased whale.
Last week some national media reported sightings of what was believed to be polar bears on the West Coast island due to the fur-like material covering their bones.
But the national expert in this field, Nick Davison, strandings co- ordinator for the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme, said: ‘We are confident that these are highly autolysed [self- digested] cetacean carcases.
‘The fur referred to in the article is decomposing blubber, which becomes stringy in appearance as the lipids from the blubber are drained away leaving the collagen fibres. Once the bones are exposed we may be able to identify these animals to a species level with help from the experts at the National Museum for Scotland.
‘From the photos that were sent to us when the animals were first reported back in August, we cannot see the carcasses having any limbs, or fur, or a skull with teeth that would identify them as any species of the Ursus family.
‘Polar bears reach a maximum length of about 2.5 meters. Their nearest habitat is 1,597 miles away from Scotland, and, although keen swimmers, this distance vastly exceeds the record swim of 400 miles, and the current water temperatures around Scotland are about 11 to 12 degrees Celsius making icefloats very unsuitable liferafts.
‘Given that the carcasses on Colonsay are approx three meters each yet are incomplete without a skull, and that a polar bear either swimming or floating such distances is logistically impossible, makes the possibility of one polar bear reaching Scotland in an identifiable condition highly questionable not to mention three, of a similar size, on one small island off the West Coast.’