Polar Bears Starving Due to Climate Change, Researchers Confirm

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"This study is going to become the new hallmark for understanding polar bears' ecology", Derocher says. This means that any food they were able to scavenge on land during this time was simply not enough. "You get a much more holistic perspective of the ecology of the bears".

That sums up the life of a polar bear.

'We found a feast and starvation lifestyle - if they missed out on seals it had a pretty dramatic effect on them, ' said a biologist who led the research.

To achieve this, they calculated the bear would need to eat either one adult ringed seal, three subadult seals or 19 newborn ringed seal pups every 10-12 days to remain in energy balance.

That sea ice is shrinking at rates of up to 13 percent per decade across the Arctic, NASA satellite imagery shows, leaving the bears with less productive hunting area.

The Beaufort Sea population that Pagano studied has declined by about 40 percent since 2005. That bear turned out to probably have been ill.

A new study on polar bear metabolism, behavior, and foraging success sheds important light on their energy demands. This assumption was found not to be true. Today, it is estimated that there are approximately 23,000 polar bears living throughout the Arctic.

The five Arctic nations still need to raise more awareness about the link between the changing Arctic environment and polar bear conservation. The species is categorized as "vulnerable". Now, two years year, the World Wildlife Fund has delivered a 52-page report that scores the efforts made by Canada, the U.S., Russia, Norway and Denmark-Greenland.

IUCN experts estimate that the population could decrease by 30 to 50% if the loss of sea ice continues. Shot by Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier of the nonprofit group Sea Legacy, and published on National Geographic in early December, the video ignited a firestorm of debate about what scientists know, and don't know, about the impacts of global warming on polar bears. "We will see more bears starving and more of them on land, where they will get into trouble by interacting with humans".

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Over the course of the study, four of the nine seals did not reach that calorie level and lost a combined mass of 20 kilograms (44 pounds), which "reinforced the starvation lifestyle the polar bears have", Pagano said.

Climate change is preventing polar bears from catching enough prey to meet their needs, with melting ice forcing them to expend excessive amounts of energy to track down seals, a study has found.

The GPS told them the distances the bears wandered, and the video camera recorded if the bears were successful in killing and eating prey. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as worldwide field programs on six continents. The bears can swim for long distances, but prefer not to as it uses up vital energy resources.

"An increasing proportion of bears are unable to meet their energy demands", the authors concluded.

Derocher said since the study used a small sample size over a short period, follow-up research should follow more animals over a longer stretch.

"In a population, there are always individuals who cope better or worse with any changes". And every additional mile that a polar bear has to traverse under its own power is that much more food the bear has to eat.

"In the Beaufort Sea we are seeing that the ice is retreating much further to the north than it had historically", Mr Pagano said.

As a scientist, he stresses that we shouldn't go off of gut feelings, but rather reliable data - "and for polar bears, those (data) aren't there yet". "(The camera) gave a perspective right underneath the bear's chin".

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