A new research on polar bears has found that these creatures will surely struggle in adapting to a land-based diet, as melting sea ice puts them at risk of starvation and because of this they might disappear altogether and become extinct.
An Alaskan study has found that food sources on the land such as berries and caribou are not enough to support the largest of the bear species. They need fish meat in order to survive.
Perhaps, their instinct dictates that they must find a way to satisfy their need for food from appropriate food sources but this is just an afterthought.
Karyn Rode, a wildlife biologist working at the US Geological Survey located in Alaska, who wrote the research, said, “What we found was that because polar bears are really huge animals — they’re considered the largest among the bear species — the contributory factor to the largeness of their size is their high fat diet, sourced out of the sea ice.”
Continuing, she explained, “The food resources in land environments are, especially arctic coastal environments where they come on shore, are poor in quality and low in abundance. And so the conclusion that we drew from that and with a variety of other information channels, was that, it’s unlikely that foods on land can successfully replace what bears are losing out on the sea ice in terms of food resources.”
According to Dr Ian Stirling, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Alberta and a member of Scientific Advisory Council at Polar Bears International, who has studied the animals for 45 years, said that seals or sea lions are the main source of nutrition for polar bears and he concurred that there are not enough food available for such on land.
Further on, he said, “The bears, they’re kind of in the worst situation in an evolutionary sense. They’re large mammals and they’re very highly specialized to very specific ecological requirements.”
“I mean, if the ecology changes, especially if it happens quickly, there’s just simply no time for the bears to even try and adapt. Polar bears feed on seals but they need a platform to hunt them from. They can’t go out and swim in the open water and catch them so they need those ice and that’s why the ice is critical,” he said.” 00:00 00:00
For Dr Stirling, climate change is responsible for the receding sea ice level, which polar bears rely on to hunt for seals for them to subsist.
He says he fears some polar bears are in danger of starvation.
“We’ve had some very thin bears in Western Hudson Bay and up in the Svalbard Archipelago north of Norway, the whole area of western Svalbard is seeing virtually no ice in the winter time recently and we’re seeing some bears that look like they might be starving,” Dr. Stirling stated.”