By Lauren Hoover
Polar bears were the first species to become endangered due to global warming. With their ice melting at fast rates, these bears literally have no where to run.
History and Location
The polar bear is the largest living land carnivore. They are distributed all throughout the Arctic. The oldest known fossil of a polar bear is 70,000 years old. Polar bears are thought to have evolved from brown bears.
Polar Bears have hollow hair that actually traps air inside which helps keep the polar bear buoyant. Their small round ears help to keep out water and to conserve body heat. The bears are white to help camouflage themselves from their prey. They are also very strong swimmers which enables them to catch their prey in the water. Polar bears also have an layer of blubber 11cm thick to help keep them warms. The skin under their white coat of fur is actually black to help retain more heat.
Polar bear's main threats all come from global warming. Habitat loss is the biggest threat to the bears. As the earth becomes warmer, the ice around the Arctic melts earlier in the year than normal. This does not give the polar bears enough time to find new land and many end up dying. Also, commercial fishing has caused the polar bear's to starve because their diet mainly consists of fish. Also, in Russia, polar bear fur is thought to be very valuable. Poaching these bears also has contributed to their endangerment.
The Center for Biological Diversity proposed the Endangered species Act which has been passed by the supreme court; this act helps to protect the polar bears and their habitat.
The WWE has helped the local towns near the polar bears' habitat understand the importance of protecting these bears. This is a video that tells more: http://worldwildlife.org/species/polar-bear#what-wwf-is-doing
With polar bears at the top of the food chain, they play an important role in maintaining the health and population of the marine life around the arctic. They are also important because they serve as an indicator species. Essentially, they have helped to expose the fact that the ice caps are melting at a high rate.
Future of Polar Bears
With the ice melting faster in the year than ever before, Polar Bears are forced to head to shore before they have fed on enough sea lions to live off of for the rest of the year. This causes the bears to become malnourished especially mothers. When the mothers later try to feed their newborn cubs, those cubs also do not get enough nutrients. Most do not make it to adulthood. This contributes to the steady decline of the Polar Bear species.