Polar Bears Starving Because of Climate Change

This week, a viral picture of a sickly polar bear is causing debate all over the world about climate change. Although the issue is not strongly affecting humans just yet, it is influencing wildlife all over the globe. Polar bears, in particular, have been the focus of concern for various organizations that are making it their mission to protect the endangered species. Now more than ever, it seems the polar bear really needs humans to reconsider the choices being made about the environment.

Polar Bears Starving Because of Climate Change - Clapway

Recently, Kerstin Langenberger, a photographer at Arctic Dreams, shared one of her portraits of a severely thin bear on social media. The image, taken in the region of Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean, depicts a polar bear with its bones protruding.

Langenberger states that she has noticed that the summers have been warmer lately. Consequently, more ice is melting and that is causing the bears to spend more time on land. She goes on to state that healthier looking bears, which remain on the ice pack all year, are almost always male. The females, on the other hand, are often slim due to the fact that they must remain on land to give birth and nurse their young. Since the ice pack is retreating further and further north every year, the bears find themselves stuck on land, where food is scarce.

Polar Bears Aren’t the Only Animals Affected

Geoff York is the senior director of conservation at Polar Bears International. When asked about the viral picture, he commented that the reports about thin or dead adult bears in the Barents Sea region are sadly consistent with what is expected with the warming Arctic. The region has the highest loss of “sea eyes,” as the summer ice-free period is now twenty weeks longer than it was in 1979, when records were first documented.

He adds that polar bears aren’t the only animals that have altered their usual routines. Walruses have been seen gathering in Northwest Alaska, bowhead whales are moving between Alaska and Greenland and killer whales are migrating to the Arctic earlier than expected. Moreover, beluga whales have been shifting their wintering areas to Greenland, all due to the loss of ice mass.

Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Most of these animals need sea ice to give birth, feed or rest. Shifting to land in order to accomplish theses tasks tremendously affects the biology of many – the polar bear specifically, as noted by Walter Vetter and his team of scientists at the University of Hohenheim. The polar bears are becoming so thin that their fat reserves have shifted completely in order to concentrate on nourishing the brain, kidneys and liver. In light of the situation, scientists all over the world are urgently calling for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, urging us to think about these animals and to help in any way that we can.