SNHS Spotlight: The Race to Save the Polar Bears

Polar bears are one of the most well-known animals in the arctic regions. With their large
body and beautiful white coats, they blend in well with the snow allowing them to easily capture
food. However, due to global warming and climate change, these bears will soon be on the brink
of endangerment.

Polar bears have a wide range when it comes to their diet. They feed on seaweed, berries,
garbage, fish, and carcasses. However, due to their large build, these bears thrive mainly by
hunting other animals, especially seals, specifically ringed and bearded seals. The bears have an
efficient digestion system allowing them to digest 97% of the fat they intake. These seals are
composed of a huge amount of fat which contributes to the nourishment that is needed for these
bears to survive.

In order for these bears to hunt, they heavily rely on the sea ice floating in the water.
They have specific kinds of paws that prevent them from slipping on ice. In addition, their paws
allow them to walk on the ice without having to worry about breaking what’s underneath them.
The arctic seals they hunt mainly wander in the water making sea ice necessary for polar bears to wait on. Although they are able to swim for long distances, when storms occur due to warmer
water, these strong currents can cause the polar bears to drown. Recently, due to climate change,
polar bears are facing their worst fear.

The Arctic is getting warmer and warmer due to climate change such as the excess
emission of greenhouse gasses. As a result, temperatures are going up by a few degrees which
can be detrimental to the glaciers in the arctic. This increase in temperatures melts glaciers and
the sea ice that helps the bears hunt. In addition, waters warm up making storms more prevalent
preventing polar bears from properly swimming through the water. Obstacles like these impede them from getting to the seals and force them to travel farther to find other means of food. Bears
are displaced from their homes and must use more energy threatening their survival rate. This
leads to more competition within their species and can eventually alter the food chain. Due to
their lack of predators, seals become more prevalent, and their prey decrease in population size.

Researchers are studying data that shows how the ice is moving and using it to predict the
movements of polar bears. In addition, they are observing the new change in habitats and the
effects it has on the polar bears. Scientists believe that as of right now, the only solution is to
lessen the emission of harmful greenhouse gasses. This means that as humans, we need to work
harder and together to reduce climate change so that we can preserve all of our environment, not just the polar bears.

Isabelle Villanueva ‘22


Categories: SNHS