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Climate change warning: polar bears' search for food is becoming more desperate

Climate change warning: polar bears' search for food is becoming more desperate

They assume the bears' hunger for food is greater than previously estimated due to a lack of sea ice; that makes the bears have to roam over greater distances to find and kill prey.

The researchers monitored the behavior, hunting success, and metabolic rates of adult female polar bears without cubs as they hunted for prey on the sea ice of the Beaufort Sea in the spring.

When the team recaptured the bears 8 to 11 days later, changes in the ratio of isotopes in their blood gave a measure of metabolic rate.

The field metabolic rates they measured averaged more than 50 percent higher than previous studies had predicted.

What the scientists found is that five of the bears lost weight and four of them lost 2.9 to 5.5 pounds (1.3 to 2.5 kilograms) per day. Polar bears rely on seals for their huge caloric needs-the four bears that lost 10% of their weight didn't catch a single seal during the study and relied on scavenging-and sea ice is pretty much a requirement for polar bears to catch seals.

US President Donald Trump recently claimed in an interview that polar ice caps were at a "record level", in remarks that have been dismissed by senior representatives from the climate science community.

It seems the, very soon the huge polar bears will go extinct from the Arctic.

"Further, thinner sea ice drifts faster, and polar bears have had to increase their movement rates in order to remain in their preferred habitat, incurring higher energy costs", he wrote.

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"We now have the technology to learn how they are moving on the ice, their activity patterns, and their energy needs, so we can better understand the implications of these changes we are seeing in the sea ice", Pagano said.

"This was at the start of the period from April through July when polar bears catch most of their prey and put on most of the body fat they need to sustain them throughout the year", Pagano said. That's why the melting of the Arctic sea ice threatens polar bear survival.

Photographs of super-skinny polar bears with ribs poking through snowy-white coats have become a doomsday image of the problems faced by these highly specialised creatures - now down to as few as 22,000 individuals - because of climate change.

In other areas like Hudson Bay, the sea ice is breaking up earlier in the summer and returning later in the fall, which has forced the polar bears to spend more time on land.

The data showed the bears were active about 35 percent of the time and resting for the remainder, yet they burned through 12,325 calories a day, much of it from their body reserves. The bears were fitted with Global Positioning System collars that had cameras to record point-of-view videos of each. Bears are also doing a lot more swimming as the sea ice declines, said Derocher. To answer this question, I have been studying polar bears' physiology and foraging behavior in the Arctic since 2013 with colleagues from the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of California at Santa Cruz, the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and Dr. Stephen Atkinson, an independent research wildlife biologist.

Polar bears hunt from the ice. At the same time, a number of polar bear populations have been on the decline - for example, dropping by about 40 percent in the Beaufort Sea in the course of a decade.

Sea ice is drifting further north so polar bears travel further to hunt.

Polar bears have been listed as a threatened species in the United States under the Endangered Species Act since May 2008, and the World Wildlife Fund lists polar bears as vulnerable to extinction, which is just one step above endangered.