Polar bears, as their title suggests, are animals which might be endemic to the North Pole. They’re majestic animals on the highest of the meals chain, which have lengthy tailored to outlive the intense chilly within the Arctic Circle. Nonetheless, these animals are actually being lowered to nothing however mere skins and bones – and have been the earliest symbols of the oncoming impacts of local weather change. On account of international warming and the fast melting of Arctic ice, polar bears are dying rapidly, and if nothing is finished rapidly sufficient, they could be gone earlier than we even comprehend it.
ICUN standing: weak
Location: Arctic Ocean (Alaska, Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway)
Species: Ursus maritimus
Weight: 800-1,300 kilos (males), 300-700 (females)
Size: 6-9 ft
Weight loss program
Polar bears’ eating regimen consists primarily of seals as they require giant quantities of fats to outlive the chilly local weather. They’ll eat as much as 10 to 20% of their whole physique weight due to their big stomachs; their our bodies can use about 97% of the fats they eat. The large mammal eats at the very least 50 seals a 12 months, however due to the annual melting patterns of the ocean ice, they’ll hunt solely from November to July. When there aren’t any seals accessible, polar bears decide to catch walruses and beluga whales.
Polar bears are gifted swimmers for looking and travelling lengthy distances, and they can maintain a tempo of six miles per hour by paddling with their entrance paws and holding their hind legs flat like a rudder. Additionally they have a thick layer of physique fats and a water-repellent coat that insulates them from the chilly air and water.
Polar bears rely closely on sea ice for a lot of actions resembling travelling, looking, resting, mating and, in some areas, maternal dens.
An fascinating reality is that almost all polar bears sleep between seven to eight hours at a stretch and infrequently take naps nearly anyplace, any time, and particularly after feeding; making people and polar bears moderately related in terms of sleeping patterns.
Polar bears are on the high of the meals chain and play an vital position in retaining the organic populations in steadiness, which is a important element to a functioning ecosystem. The species eat virtually solely on seals, but when they’ll’t hunt for this meals supply on account of lack of a sturdy ice platform or pure exhaustion, they’ll transfer on to different animals.
This might threaten the existence of different Arctic species, such because the Arctic fox or the walrus. Other than the brand new, elevated menace of being hunted as prey by polar bears, these Arctic animals can even should compete for meals sources with their predators. Scavengers just like the Arctic fox and Arctic birds just like the snowy owl rely on huge kills from polar bears – feeding from the leftover carcasses – as sources for meals as effectively. If polar bears are unable to kill seals, one other meals supply for the wildlife can be lower out.
With out polar bears to manage the seals’ inhabitants, the variety of seals will subsequently improve, threatening the inhabitants of crustaceans and fish within the area, which is a vital meals supply not just for seals, but in addition for different Arctic wildlife in addition to native human populations.
On account of local weather change, the Arctic is heating up twice as quick as anyplace else on the planet, shrinking the Arctic sea ice cowl by 14% per decade. In comparison with the median sea ice cowl recorded between 1981-2010, we now have misplaced about 770,000 sq. miles between 2011 to 2021, an space bigger than Alaska and California mixed.
As polar bears rely closely on ice to outlive, this results in a drastic lower within the variety of the species In truth, a current reassessment reveals that there’s a excessive chance that the worldwide polar bear inhabitants will decline by greater than 30% over the following 35 to 40 years.
Polar bears depend on sea ice to hunt seals, relaxation and breed. And when ice melts throughout summer time and autumn, they arrive ashore and depend on fats storage till the ice refreezes to allow them to return out to hunt. As a result of lack of sea ice, polar bears should journey longer distances to stick with the quickly receding ice, and there may be not sufficient meals provides throughout winter. To make issues worse, sea ice now melts earlier within the spring and types later within the autumn, which means that they’ll starve even longer throughout these months. Because the bear spends longer durations with out meals, their well being declines. For each week earlier that the ice breaks up in Hudson Bay, bears come ashore roughly 22 pounds lighter and in poorer situation.
Even those that survive the hunger will endure from heavy malnutrition, particularly females with cubs. Unhealthy bears can result in decrease copy charges and extinction in sure places. Scientists have discovered the principle explanation for dying for cubs to be both lack of meals or lack of fats on nursing moms.
Together with sea ice loss, different potential threats to the species embody air pollution, useful resource exploration and habitat change on account of improvement. Oil improvement within the Arctic, for instance, poses a variety of threats, from oil spills to elevated human-bear interplay and conflicts.
To guard polar bears, there have been quite a few efforts taken up by totally different organisations. This consists of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which has been advocating for the institution of protected areas within the Arctic, supporting Inuit-led administration and conducting analysis to advance understanding of the Final Ice Space – the place summer time sea ice will persist the longest within the face of local weather change, offering refuge for ice-dependent species.
Aside from the WWF, the Polar Bear Specialist Group can be working to guard polar bears by funding the Hubbs-SeaWorld analysis, which goals to preserve and renew wildlife. There may be additionally a particular conservation group working throughout the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with a aim of coordinating, synthesising, and distributing scientific info essential to information the long-term viability of polar bears and their habitats.
Polar Bears International can be devoted to the preservation of polar bears, conducting analysis and elevating consciousness of the plight of polar bears by way of academic programmes and by sponsoring programmes resembling Save Our Sea Ice to facilitate efforts to scale back carbon, which is able to, in flip, save the polar bear’s habitat.
What Can We do?
There are numerous methods wherein we may help save polar bears even after we are miles away from the Arctic Circle. We are able to donate cash and even volunteer with any polar bear conservation organisations highlighted above. One other method to assist polar bears is by serving to combat local weather change.
Burning fossil fuels is the main trigger of world warming and the melting of sea ice. One simple option to cut back fossil gas consumption is making our every day commute just a little greener. Merely carpooling or biking to work is already a small step in saving polar bears from extinction. We are able to additionally cut back our consumption of animal merchandise and purchase native produce when attainable to scale back the emissions of greenhouse fuel.