A world without polar bears?

A new study reveals that these animals are losing more and more body mass

A world without polar bears?

Late last year, a photo of a famished polar bear went viral. With the study conducted by the United States Geological Survey and the University of California  Santa Cruz, the causes are better known. The investigation revealed that due to the loss of the ice cap of the north pole, polar bears are hunting fewer and fewer seals, which causes them to lose body mass.

The group of researchers chose 9 specimens that lived near the Beaufort Sea in Alaska and placed satellite tracking collars on their necks as well as cameras. Researchers followed these animals for 2 years to identify their behavior and their adaptation to the changes their habitat suffers. They also had periodic blood tests.

The results revealed several interesting facts. First of all, it was evidenced that the polar bears' metabolism is much faster than previously thought, they are fat burning machines. This means that they must feed in a much more periodic way than previously thought. Ironically and alarmingly, the study also showed that bears are doing the opposite. Due to climate change and the melting of the ice, they are feeding much less, a kind of "climate change diet". Apparently they have found it difficult to find seals (their main food) and this is meaning a loss of their body mass.

The follow-up of these 9 specimens showed that only 4 of them are feeding adequately of about 12,325 calories (eating 1 adult seal or 3 young) every 10 days, the other 5 have been losing weight (up to 20 kg in only 10 days) .

According to several studies, in the last 40 years, the ice sheet has been reduced by 13% each year in the Arctic. This is causing the bears to travel much longer distances to feed and spend much more energy. The low weight of the bears also triggers the alarm, since they can be in danger of extinction much faster than previously thought.

*The low weight of the bears also triggers the alarm, since they may be in danger of extinction much faster than previously thought. 

Anthony Pagano, head of the investigation, explained to the British newspaper The Guardian that during the time of the year in which it was carried out the follow-up (April), the polar bears should eat in a volume much bigger than the normal, to be able to maintain its weight throughout the year, something that did not happen.

Obtaining food from these animals is not easy. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Wildlife Preservation Organization ensures that polar bears spend more than 50% of their time marrying and are only effective in less than 2% of that time.

The polar bears are on the list of protected species of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and experts have explained the need to reduce climate change for the conservation of this species, since the main food of these bears are the seals, which usually rest on the ice, the same that is melting.


Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Copy edited by Laura Rocha Rueda

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