Desperately searching for food on dry land, a starving polar bear was caught on camera by a biologist and his crew in Baffin Island, off Canada’s northern coast, not far from Greenland.
This is the devastating effect of climate change.
Polar bears, that primarily consume seals, have the habit of staking out their prey’s air hole and wait for the seals to come up for air. However, the ongoing climate conditions have led to retraction of sea ice, leaving polar bears starving.
Part of the National Geographic team, Paul Nicklen, a biologist-turned-photographer, caught this heartbreaking video on camera and commented on how when caught, the bear seemed to be just hours away from death and there was nothing him or his crew could have done to save the starving animal.
A member of his crew, Cristine Mittermeier, shared a heart wrenching post on the condition of the polar bear.
Photo by @CristinaMittermeier // This is what a starving polar bear looks like. Weak muscles, atrophied by extended starvation could barely hold him up. Our @sea_legacy team watched as he painfully staggered towards the abandoned fishing camp from which we were observingv and found some trash to eat – a piece of foam from the seat of a snowmobile, as we later found out. People have asked why we couldn’t help it, why we didn’t feed it. In addition to being illegal to feed wildlife, polar bears, like this one, need several hundred pounds of meat to survive. They primarily eat seals and they struggle when they are stranded for long periods of time on land, without a sea ice platform from which to hunt. We didn’t have a weapon and we didn’t have any food for it. There literally was nothing we could do for him as we were hundreds of miles from the nearest Inuit community. What could we have done? What we did do was push through our tears knowing that this footage was going to help connect a global audience to the biggest issue facing us as a species today. It is true that we don’t know what caused this animal to starve but we are certain that unless we curb carbon emissions, sea ice will continue to disappear and many more bears will starve. With these images, we want to wake the world up to the imminence of climate change and to how it will affect wildlife and people for decades to come. For solutions on how each and everyone can make a positive impact on this planet #follow me at @CristinaMittermeier or go to @sea_legacy. #nature #naturelovers #bethechange #FaceofClimateChange #StopFossilFuels #NoArcticDrilling #TurningtheTide with @SeaLegacy. With @PaulNicklen and our entire team.
The issue was earlier brought to light through the 2016 NASA funded Study, conducted by researchers from University of Washington, that reported on how the polar bear habitats were losing sea ice concentration at a rate of 9% per decade.
For animals like the polar bear, that depend heavily on the natural state of the environment for their food hunting habits, climate change is causing grave problems.
It is truly despairing to see an animal as magnificent as the polar bear be reduced to hunt like a scavenger for survival.
You can watch the video here: