International Polar Bear Day raises their plight in a rapidly warming Arctic

February 27th, 2018

On the 27th February every year, International Polar Bear Day raises public awareness about the dangers faced by polar bears in a rapidly warming Arctic.

Climate change causes the rapid loss of available sea ice, which is now the main threat to the survival of polar bears.

This endangered animal species depends on sea ice for hunting, travelling and sometimes also for denning.

It is estimated that there are 26,000 polar bears left in the world that mainly reside in Canada, Russia, Greenland, Norway, and Alaska.

Scientists predict that wild polar bears will become extinct by 2100, with two thirds of them gone by 2050 due to sea ice loss.

Polar Bears Across the Arctic Face Shorter Sea Ice Season Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Polar bears are known for being strong swimmers and divers, but the loss of sea ice is testing this ability of theirs. The lack of sea ice is forcing polar bears into longer swims in search of suitable sea ice,

One study was conducted on a female polar bear, which embarked on a marathon, 426-mile swim in the Arctic seas. The tested polar bear swam for over nine days without finding a resting place. She lost her cub and 22 per cent of her body weight in the process.

Other challenges facing polar bears

Some other challenges to the survival of polar bears include increased commercial activities, pollution, disease, inadequate habitat protection, and sports hunting.

Scientists believe that the current harvest for polar bears is at 600-800 per year, which is 3-4 per cent of the 26,000 polar bears left in the world.

Sport hunting is not as big of an issue as it was in the past due to regulations and better management.

The act of legal hunting of polar bears continues on for indigenous people on a sustainable basis as this is considered a traditional culture for these tribes.

You can do your part to save these endangered species by lending a hand in preventing catastrophic climate change.

It is encouraged to take some simple steps including lowering your thermostat or taking public transportation in order to cut down carbon output, so as help reduce the impact of climate change.

About the Author

Ja Wei Lee

Ja Wei is a third-year journalism student from DIT. He is passionate about writing, exploring new ideas and has a keen interest in social issues

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