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It seems like not a day can go by without us having to talk about climate change. Of course, it is a serious subject, affecting our entire environment for the worst, so this is why we have to keep raising awareness. Still, that doesn’t mean that talking about it can’t get tiresome or that it can’t do more harm than good in some circumstances.
But it is very important to raise awareness. So, to focus on the most recent news from the climate change front lines, let’s talk about the Arctic. According to a team of researchers studying them for close to a decade, polar bears became long distance swimmers due to melting Arctic ice.
As the ice from the polar caps is melting at a much faster pace than it is supposed to because of global warming, it effects continue to make their mark on the environment. And polar bears, having to live near the heart of the problem, are not faring all that well, according to the recent study.
Apparently, as the ice caps are melting, it’s getting increasingly difficult for the animals to get both food and empty solid surfaces. This puts them in the precarious position of having to swim many miles each day in order to be able to stay alive, fed, and to find land.
Before their migration season in 2007, over 100 polar bears were tagged with GPS transmitters in order for the scientists to be able to track them. The trackers served their purpose valiantly in 2007, and then again when a team of scientists from the University of Alberta and Environment and Climate Change Canada wanted to see how they are affected by the ice.
As recently as 2012, 69 percent of the polar bears in the Arctic had to swim distances longer than 31 miles at least once. Now, even those numbers have gone up, with one bear reported to have swam around 250 miles for nine straight days without being able to stop once for food or rest.
This is slowly becoming the reality for all the rest of the bears as well. And even though polar bears are excellent swimmers, even they lack the stamina to swim for so long in order to survive. Things are significantly more difficult for mothers with cubs, as they have to move much slower, as a group.
According to Nicolas Pilfold, lead author of the study,
Recent studies indicate that swimming may be energetically costly to polar bears. Given the continued trend of sea ice loss, we recognize that an increased frequency in the need to engage in this behavior may have serious implications for population of polar bears living around the Arctic Basin.
Image source: Wikimedia