Polar Bear Cubs Under Risk From Sea Loss

Posted on August 2nd 2011

WWF charity officials have co-written a new paper which claims that polar bear cubs are more at risk now than ever due to sea ice loss from climate change. The bears are now having to swim much longer distances to find stable ice and food, which is causing a greater risk to cubs.

The study, ‘Long-distance swimming events by adult female polar bears in the southern Beaufort and Chukchi Seas’ was handed in by WWF polar bear expert Geoff York and lead author Anthony Pagano last month at the International Bear Association (IBA) Conference held in Canada. The paper showed that in since 2004, up to 45% of the polar bears monitored had lost their cubs during swimming long distances. Due to a cubs smaller size and less body fat leaves them at risk to hypothermia. This is stark contrast to only 18% of the cubs that died that were not forced to endure long distances swims with their mother.

Co-author and WWF Polar Bear Expert, Geoff York, said –

Climate change is pulling the sea ice out from under polar bears’ feet, forcing some to swim longer distances to find food and habitat. This research is the first analysis to identify a significant multi-year trend of increased long-distance swimming by polar bears. Prior research had only reported on single incidents.

Sea ice volume is now almost 50% lower than it was 30 years ago, with Arctic sea ice dropping to record low levels in July 2011. Polar bears were added to the Endangered Species on June 30th 2011, and unless global warming is significantly reduced, could be gone altogether in the next 50 years…

a fate these beautiful creatures do not deserve.


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