When photographer Paul Nicklen and filmmakers from preservation group Sea Legacy showed up in the Baffin Islands, they discovered a heartbreaking sight: a starving polar bear on its deathbed.
Nicklen is no stranger to bears. From the time he was a child maturing in Canada’s far north the biologist turned wildlife photographer has seen over 3,000 bears in the wild. However the emaciated polar bear, included in videos Nicklen released to social networks on December 5, was one of the most gut-wrenching sights he’s ever seen.
” We stood there crying– shooting with tears rolling down our cheeks,” he stated.
Video reveals the polar bear holding on to life, its white hair limply covering its thin, bony frame. Among the bear’s back legs drags behind it as it walks, likely due to muscle atrophy. Searching for food, the polar bear slowly searches through a neighboring trashcan used seasonally by Inuit fishers. It discovers nothing and resignedly collapses back down onto the ground.
In the days given that Nicklen published the video footage, he’s been asked why he didn’t intervene.
” Obviously, that crossed my mind,” stated Nicklen. “However it’s not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat.”
And even if he did, stated Nicklen, he just would have been extending the bear’s torment. Plus, feeding wild polar bears is prohibited in Canada.
The wildlife professional photographer states he shot the bear’s sluggish, beleaguered death due to the fact that he didn’t want it to die in vain.
” When researchers state bears are going extinct, I want people to recognize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death,” said Nicklen. “This is what a starving bear looks like.”
THE CLIMATE CHANGE LINK
By informing the story of one polar bear, Nicklen wants to convey a larger message about how a warming climate has fatal repercussions.
Polar bears have actually long been unwitting mascots for the results of climate modification. As animals that live just in Arctic areas, they’re frequently the first to feel the effects of warming temperatures and increasing seas.
The big, half-ton bears discover concentrations of seals on sea ice. During summer season, it’s not uncommon for polar bears to go months without consuming while they await Arctic ice to strengthen.
In 2002, a World Wildlife Fund report predicted that climate modification might ultimately lead to polar bear endangerment or termination. Even then, the report found that polar bears were moving from ice to land earlier and remaining on land longer, unhealthily extending the bears’ fasting season. By the end of summer, a lot of bears studied by the World Wildlife Fund revealed indications of hunger.
Fifteen years later, polar bears’ icy hunting premises remain in even worse shape. The National Snow and Ice Data Center, which tracks sea ice cover each year, has routinely noted record lows in sea ice protection– a decrease that is anticipated to only worsen. (Read more about drastic predictions for diminishing sea ice.).
A research study just recently released in the journal Biosciences looked at how environment science is frequently wrongly challenged. The study discovered climate deniers have the ability to minimize the danger of climate modification by discrediting the risk facing polar bears.
Nevertheless, a research study released last year by the European Geosciences Union and this year by the U.S. Geological Survey confirms melting sea ice continues to be an existential risk to polar bears.