Unlike other bear species, Polar bears are exclusively carnivores. Their main prey is the ringed and bearded seals. This is because they need the fat to survive the harsh climate. Polar bears spend over 50% of their time hunting for food, but less than 2% of their hunts are successful.
Due to the sinking ice caps, the polar bear’s natural habitat is being diminished. Not only are they finding it hard to catch prey they are also facing problems places to live. Polar bears are not amphibians and cannot survive in water and they need ice to stand on when catching seals.
The polar bears were the first species that were listed as endangered due to global warming by the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The polar bears were listed because of the ongoing loss of their habitat on a critical level.
The sea ice is disappearing for a longer period of time every year. The polar bears are thus getting insufficient time to hunt and before long the winter sets in. Polar bears can only survive in areas where the oceans freeze, allowing them to hunt seals living under, on, or in the frozen polar ice cap. Due to the lack of food, it’s been reported that Polar Bears are resorting to cannibalistic behaviour, further reducing their numbers.
In 2011, it was reported that a female polar bear reportedly swam for nine days – nonstop-across the Beaufort Sea before reaching an ice floe, costing her 22 percent of her weight and her cub. If this rampant burning of fossil fuel and emission of greenhouse gases continues, polar bears could soon become extinct.
The polar bear is the proverbial “canary in the cryosphere” of the serious threat global warming poses to wildlife species around the world, unless we take immediate and significant action to reduce global warming pollution.