polar bear with cub

Everyone knows that warmer climates means there is less ice in the arctic, and in some way it is affecting the polar bear population. What many people may not realize is the actual reasoning behind the problem. So here it is:

 

Sea Ice, Polar Bears, and Seals

One of the polar bear’s primary food sources is seals, which they travel the arctic looking for in order to sustain enough energy to survive, as well as hibernate in the winters. In order to travel across stretches of water, the polar bears need to land on chunks of ice floating in the water, or ‘sea ice’. A rise in global temperatures results in these chunks of sea ice melting, and leaving fewer pit-stops for the bears when they are in search of food. When the bears have fewer places to travel to in search of food, they eat less, have less energy, and generally do not live as long as they would if they had more sustainable food sources. In turn, they also have a lower chance of a successful pregnancy.

 

The Re-Population Issue

The really unfortunate part about this situation is that it isn’t just one generation of polar bears which is suffering. The bears which are currently in search of food and dying off because of a lack of sea ice are now having fewer cubs than they traditionally would, or some not having any at all. According to researchers at the University of Alberta, approximately 20 years ago, “28 per cent of energy-deprived pregnant polar bears in the Hudson Bay region failed to have even a single cub”. It is the combination of these two problems which is causing the current crisis in the polar bear population.

Related:   Jim Prentice Steps Down as Minister of the Environment

 

The Future of Sea Ice

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look good. This January marked the lowest ever level of sea ice on record (data started being recorded in ’79). There are currently only 20,000 – 25,000 polar bears left in the arctic, and with decreasing sea ice it is unlikely that number is going to go up.

If you want to donate to the WWF in order to help save the polar bears, visit their ‘Adopt a Polar Bear‘ page, and let’s do what we can to save this amazing species.

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