'I filmed with tears rolling down my cheeks': Heart-breaking footage shows a starving polar bear hours from death struggling to walk on iceless land (15 Pics)

When photographer Paul Nicklen and filmmakers from conservation group Sea Legacy arrived in the Baffin Islands in late summer, they came across a heartbreaking sight: a starving polar bear on its deathbed.
Nicklen is no stranger to bears. From the time he was a child growing up in Canada's far north the biologist turned wildlife photographer has seen over 3,000 bears in the wild. But the emaciated polar bear, featured in videos Nicklen published to social media on December 5, was one of the most gut-wrenching sights he's ever seen.
"We stood there crying—filming with tears rolling down our cheeks," he said.
In heartbreaking scenes, which brought the cameraman who captured them to tears, the emaciated creature can be seen scavenging for sustenance, stumbling over terrain devoid of ice.The clip was recorded by photographer Paul Nicklen, who is part of conservation group Sea Legacy

Video shows the polar bear clinging to life, its white hair limply covering its thin, bony frame. One of the bear's back legs drags behind it as it walks, likely due to muscle atrophy. Looking for food, the polar bear slowly rummages through a nearby trashcan used seasonally by Inuit fishers. It finds nothing and resignedly collapses back down onto the ground.
In the days since Nicklen posted the footage, he's been asked why he didn’t intervene.
"Of course, that crossed my mind," said Nicklen. "But it's not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat."
And even if he did, said Nicklen, he only would have been prolonging the bear's misery. Plus, feeding wild polar bears is illegal in Canada.
The wildlife photographer says he filmed the bear's slow, beleaguered death because he didn't want it to die in vain.
"When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death," said Nicklen. "This is what a starving bear looks like."

Disturbing footage of a starving wild polar bear scouring a desolate landscape for food has taken the internet by storm. Rummaging in a rubbish bin for a life-saving morsel he comes up empty, before slumping to the ground waiting for death


By telling the story of one polar bear, Nicklen hopes to convey a larger message about how a warming climate has deadly consequences.
Polar bears have long been unwitting mascots for the effects of climate change. As animals that live only in Arctic regions, they're often the first to feel the impacts of warming temperatures and rising seas.
The large, half-ton bears find concentrations of seals on sea ice. During summer months, it's not uncommon for polar bears to go months without eating while they wait for Arctic ice to solidify.
In 2002, a World Wildlife Fund report predicted that climate change could eventually lead to polar bear endangerment or extinction. Even then, the report found that polar bears were moving from ice to land earlier and staying on land longer, unhealthily extending the bears' fasting season. By the end of summer, most bears studied by the World Wildlife Fund showed signs of starvation.
Fifteen years later, polar bears' icy hunting grounds are in even worse shape. The National Snow and Ice Data Center, which tracks sea ice cover annually, has regularly noted record lows in sea ice coverage—a decline that is expected to only get worse.
A study recently published in the journal Biosciences looked at how climate science is often falsely discredited. The study found climate deniers are able to downplay the threat of climate change by discrediting the threat facing polar bears.
However, a study published last year by the European Geosciences Union and this year by the U.S. Geological Survey confirms melting sea ice continues to be an existential threat to polar bears.
The clip was recorded by photographer Paul Nicklen, who is part of conservation group Sea Legacy who says he captured the creature's lingering agony because he didn't want its death to be in vain

It is illegal to feed wild polar bears in Canada, but even if he had been able to, he would only have been delaying the inevitable. About the moment, Mr Nicklin said: 'We stood there crying, filming with tears rolling down our cheeks'

The former biologist who has now turned his hand to wildlife photography has seen over 3,000 bears in the wild, but this particular encounter will no doubt linger in his memory

The photographer shared the haunting moment with his Instagram followers, attracting over one million views at the time of publication. The bear is likely to have died 'within hours or days of this moment', he added on the photo sharing site

By raising awareness of the death of this particular polar bear, Mr Nicklen hopes to bring home the reality of global warming for the entire species

Polar bear numbers are expected to collapse by a third in as little as 35 years as ice melts in the Arctic, a 2016 study found. The drop in numbers will reduce the world population of the bears from around 26,000 to 17,000

As home to the Barnes Ice Cap, Baffin Island has been particularly hard hit by the warming climate. The cap is around the size of Delaware or four times the size of Greater London, and is the last piece of an ice sheet that once blanketed North America

The ice cap in the Canadian Arctic, which is around the size of Delaware or or four times the size of Greater London, is the last piece of ice sheet that once blanketed much of North America.

Although the ice cap is still 500 meters (1,600 feet) thick, it's melting at a rapid pace driven by increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that have elevated Arctic temperatures

In March, scientists announced that, under a 'business-as-usual' greenhouse gas emissions scenario, the last remnant of the North American ice sheet is set to melt in about 300 years

This is not the first time that starving polar bears have made the headlines. In September 2015, nature photographer Kerstin Langenberger captured on camera an emaciated female polar bear dragging an injured leg

There have been increasing reports in recent years of polar bears spending more and more time on land, raiding bird nests and even eating dolphins in their search for alternative sources of food

'I filmed with tears rolling down my cheeks': Heart-breaking footage shows a starving polar bear hours from death struggling to walk on iceless land (15 Pics) 'I filmed with tears rolling down my cheeks': Heart-breaking footage shows a starving polar bear hours from death struggling to walk on iceless land (15 Pics) Reviewed by Your Destination on December 09, 2017 Rating: 5

No comments