Emaciated polar bear pictures raise global warming concerns Photographs of underweight polar bears have gone viral on social media and raised concerns about the effects of climate change
Photographs of emaciated polar bears have gone viral on social media, and raised concerns over the effects of global warming.
One, taken by National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen, shows a dead polar bear lying on a pile of rocks in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.
Mr Nicklen is trained as a biologist and has worked in the Arctic for decades. He says that on a trip to Svalbard last summer he was unable to locate any live bears, but did find two that appeared to have starved to death.
"These bears were so skinny, they appeared to have died of starvation, as in the absence of sea ice, they were not able to hunt seals," he wrote in an Instagram post accompanying the photograph.
Paul Nicklen, a scientist at the University of Alberta who studies polar bears, agreed with the assessment that the bear had starved to death.
“You can’t say 100 per cent that it starved to death, but that’s probably what happened," he told Mashable. "It certainly looks to me like it has starved to death.”
Another photograph taken on Svalbard, a Norwegian territory, has raised similar concerns.
It was taken by photographer Kersten Langengerger and shows an unusually thin polar bear floating on ice.
Ms Langenberger said it was just one of several underweight female bears she had spotted on Svalbard.
An estimated 3,000 polar bears live in the Barents Sea, of which many reside on Svalbard and are a primary source of tourism. A British student from Eton College was killed by a polar bear in 2011 in Svalbard.
Polar bear populations are believed to have declined in recent decades due in large part to global warming, though populations are difficult to track due to the bears' remote habitats.
An assesment from the Norwegian government said that the loss of sea ice was of "great concern" for polar bears in the Berents Sea.