Paul Nicklen, the world renowned photographer and biologist who co-founded Sea Legacy and works with Nat Geo, captured this heartbreaking scene of a young emaciated polar bear looking for food.
My entire @Sea_Legacy team was pushing through their tears and emotions while documenting this dying polar bear. It’s a soul-crushing scene that still haunts me, but I know we need to share both the beautiful and the heartbreaking if we are going to break down the walls of apathy. This is what starvation looks like. The muscles atrophy. No energy. It’s a slow, painful death. When scientists say polar bears will be extinct in the next 100 years, I think of the global population of 25,000 bears dying in this manner. There is no band aid solution. There was no saving this individual bear. People think that we can put platforms in the ocean or we can feed the odd starving bear. The simple truth is this—if the Earth continues to warm, we will lose bears and entire polar ecosystems. This large male bear was not old, and he certainly died within hours or days of this moment. But there are solutions. We must reduce our carbon footprint, eat the right food, stop cutting down our forests, and begin putting the Earth—our home—first. Please join us at @sea_legacy as we search for and implement solutions for the oceans and the animals that rely on them—including us humans. Thank you your support in keeping my @sea_legacy team in the field. With @CristinaMittermeier #turningthetide with @Sea_Legacy #bethechange #nature #naturelovers This video is exclusively managed by Caters News. To license or use in a commercial player please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 121 616 1100 / +1 646 380 1615”
The video was captured in Canada’s far north Arctic. It gives you a heart breaking insight into the impact climate change is having. Paul was on assignment with his Sea Legacy team when they were filming. He wrote on Instagram, “My entire Sea Legacy team was pushing through their tears and emotions while documenting this dying polar bear”.
The video shows a young male adult polar bear looking for food. At one point he comes across old trash cans used by inuit fisherman. Unfortunately there was no food for him. The sad reality is that this young male probably dies shortly after this video. This male was visibly starving and extremely weak.
A study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) concluded that climate change is the greatest threat to polar bear populations. Their most recent study shows September Sea ice extent declining at a rate of 14% per decade. This is important because polar bears rely on sea ice to reach their prey. With shorter time frames of sea ice, polar bears will have more difficulty finding enough meals to sustain themselves. This will result in more starvation as seen in the video, and less bear cubs being reproduced each year. This study was conducted from 1979 through 2011. See the study here: IUCN Polar Bear Study
Scenes like this are going to become a common occurrence. It is a sad reality for our rapidly changing climate. We must act now and quickly to do whatever it takes to reduce our carbon footprint. Not just on the individual level. We need to be demanding our governments to take strong and rapid action to help combat the alarming rise in global temperatures.