The theory that polar bears will become extinct by 2025 is not just an assumption, but an idea based on real research and analysis, in terms of climate change and the way higher temperatures already affect the environment.
As the temperature of the water increases, ice caps are melting down, which makes it so much difficult for these large mammals to catch seals for food. Thus, they go weeks without being able to feed themselves and this largely affects their health.
Until now, it was believed that polar bears were able to preserve their energy by employing walking hibernation. However, recent research proves that this phenomenon doesn’t exist. This means that bears need to feed themselves constantly in order to survive.
The researchers monitored the body temperatures of over 24 polar bears and came to the conclusion that they literally starve during warmer seasons:
“We found that polar bears appear unable to meaningfully prolong their reliance on stored energy, confirming their vulnerability to lost hunting opportunities on the sea ice. This suggests that bears are unlikely to avoid deleterious declines in body condition, and ultimately survival, that are expected with continued ice loss and lengthening of the ice-melt period, ” said study lead author John Whiteman. ”
They also found that such bears are able to swim long distances. It was reported that an adult polar bear can swim for 9 days, on a 400 miles distance. This can come in handy, given the fact that their ice sheets keep getting thinner until they melt away. Even so, as more ice melts down, more bears are going to die either of starvation or simply by drowning.
Surprisingly, they are unlikely to die from freezing, as these bears are able to cool off their outermost tissues through a process called heterothermy. According to the scientists, this phenomenon is their way to adapt to long-distance swimming.
Unfortunately, these amazing abilities will probably not save the species from its tragic fate. With the Arctic sea ice season growing shorter by the year and the higher temperatures of the water, these wonderful creatures will have nowhere to live and nothing to hunt very soon.
The pollutants released in the environment don’t help them either. It was shown that they are less likely to reproduce in these conditions.
There are not many bears left on the globe and they will most probably soon become a very rare sight.
Image Source: livescience