Disturbing video: Emaciated polar bear clings to life
Saturday, December 9, 2017, 2:47 PM - A team of wildlife photographers and filmmakers have captured heart-wrenching footage they say draws attention to the direct impact of climate change on threatened animals who rely on the protection of our world's oceans.
An emaciated polar bear moves sluggishly along onSomerset Island, Nunavut, dragging its withering frame as it scours for food in a rusty garbage can before collapsing into the grass. It appears that the muscles in at least one of the bear's legs have atrophied, unable to support the bears diminished weight.
The footage was capture by SeaLegacy, a collective of filmmakers and photographers who advocate for the conversation of the world's oceans through visual storytelling.
SeaLegacy's co-founder, Canadian marine biologist and award winning photographer Paul Nicklen, posted the video to Instagram, where the bear has received over 1,000,000 views:
"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," Nicklen said on Instagram.
Nicklen told National Geographic why he did not intervene when he saw the bear, which he assumes died shortly afterwards. "Of course, that crossed my mind," Nicklen told the publication's Sarah Gibbens. "But it's not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat." Gibbens goes on to point out that it is illegal to feed wild polar bears in Canada.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the polar bears as a vulnerable on their Red List of threatened species. The conservation authority points out that climate change is the most serious threat to polar bears, who hunt and live on Arctic sea ice which is rapidly melting. According to the Government of Canada, sea ice area in the Northern Canadian Waters declined at a rate of 6.8% per decade between 1968 and 2015.
There are roughly 25,000 polar bears left worldwide.
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