This Starving Polar Bear Broke a Photographer's Heart


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.

National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen captured the sad sight on video and posted it online December 5. The tired and emaciated animal eventually lies back down, exhausted from his fruitless hunt.

'Bears are going to starve to death.

He wrote in the caption that he hopes the video, which he described as a "soul-crushing scene", will help "break down the walls of apathy".

"The simple truth is this - if the Earth continues to warm, we will lose bears and entire polar ecosystems", he said. What's more, he states that they filmed the bear's suffering to show people what it means when scientists say that bears may go extinct as a result of starvation. Because there's no snow or ice in the Canadian territory, the bears have no way of accessing their main food source, seals.

The melting of ice sheets in the Arctic region has a direct impact on the polar bear population, which seems to be struggling to survive.

No one can prove that particular bear was starving because of climate change.

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The bear, which was not old, probably died within hours of being captured on video, said Nicklen. "This is what a starving bear looks like".

However, climate change and its devastating effects have been responsible for the displacement and extinction of many of our animal species. "We must reduce our carbon footprint, eat the right food, stop cutting down our forests, and begin putting the Earth-our home-first".

Nicklen also says that the urge to intervene did cross his mind - but, equipped only with his camera, there was nothing he could do.

'The simple truth is this - if the Earth continues to warm, we will lose bears and entire polar ecosystems.

"My entire @Sea_Legacy team was pushing through their tears and emotions while documenting this dying polar bear", Nicklen wrote in an Instagram post with the footage. Please join us at @sea_legacy as we search for and implement solutions for the oceans and the animals that rely on them-including us humans. Not only is it illegal to approach or feed polar bears, according to Sea Legacy, but this individual bear was "on his last legs and his muscles had atrophied beyond fix".

Fortunately, however, the condition of this bear is not representative of most polar bear populations - at least not yet. With @CristinaMittermeier #turningthetide with @Sea_Legacy #bethechange #nature #naturelovers This video is exclusively managed by Caters News.

"Short of action that effectively addresses the primary cause of diminishing sea ice, it is unlikely that polar bears will be recovered", said a report early this year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In any event, it's "not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat".