By Stephen Leahy
BROOKLIN, Canada, Nov 17 (IPS) – The iconic animal of the frozen north, the polar bear, is starving to death because climate change is melting the Arctic Ocean sea ice.
Polar bears hunt seals almost exclusively and do so from the sea ice. But in the past five years, summer sea ice coverage has declined by 20 percent due to warming temperatures. Although excellent swimmers, the bears are not very good at catching seals in the water, so changes in the ice are making it difficult for these giant bears to survive — several have recently been found drowned and to have died of starvation.
This week scientists announced new findings that the survival rate of polar bear cubs in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea has plummeted. In the late 1980s, 65 percent of polar bear cubs in the southern Beaufort Sea survived their first year. That has fallen to an average of 43 percent in the past five years, report scientists at the Canadian Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
“This an extremely ominous finding for polar bears,” said Kassie Siegel of the Centre for Biological Diversity, an environmental non-governmental organisation, based in Joshua Tree, California.
“We’ve observed massive melting of the sea ice in the Arctic in recent years, and they can’t survive without it,” Siegel told IPS.
And here are my most recent articles on the state of the Arctic: Arctic Ice Gone in 5 Years – First Time in One Million Years
Arctic Is the Canary in the Coalmine
Arctic Oil and Gas Rush Alarms Scientists
Arctic Meltdown Signals Long-Term Trend