Video footage from Canada’s Arctic has offered a devastating look at the impact climate change is having on polar bears in the region, showing an emaciated bear clinging to life as it scrounged for food on iceless land.
The scene was recorded by the conservation group Sea Legacy during a late summer expedition in Baffin Island. “My entire Sea Legacy team was pushing through their tears and emotions while documenting this dying polar bear,” photographer Paul Nicklen wrote on social media after publishing the footage last month.
The video shows the bear struggling to walk as it searches for food. The bear eventually comes across a trashcan used by Inuit fishermen, rummaging through it with little luck. The bear, which was not old, probably died within hours of being captured on video, said Nicklen. “This is what starvation looks like. The muscles atrophy. No energy. It’s a slow, painful death.”
Photo: screen grab from Youtube
Since posting the footage, Nicklen has been asked why he and his team did not help the bear. “Of course, that crossed my mind,” he said. “But it’s not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat.” Feeding polar bears is also illegal in Canada.
The film-makers drew a direct line between the bear’s state and climate change. “As temperatures rise and sea ice melts, polar bears lose access to the main staple of their diets – seals,” the video noted. “Starving, and running out of energy, they are forced to wander into human settlements for any source of food.” (The Guardian)
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