Climate change forced a single polar bear to swim continuously for over nine days in search of stable sea ice, a new study has revealed.
The bear’s epic journey came at a great cost: scientists note that she lost her yearling cub when the small bear couldn’t keep up with the long-distance swim and low temperatures. Scientists report the bear also lost 22 percent of her body fat as well.
A study recently published in Polar Biology found that melting sea ice is threatening the health and safety of future polar bear generations by requiring the bears to swim exhaustive distances in freezing cold water.
“This bear swam continuously for 232 hours and 687 km and through waters that were 2-6 degrees C,” research zoologist George M. Durner told BBC News.
“We are in awe that an animal that spends most of its time on the surface of sea ice could swim constantly for so long in water so cold,” Durner continued, “It is truly an amazing feat.”
The scientists were able to track the movements of a single female polar bear over 2 months by fitting her with a GPS collar.
Spreads of floating sea ice provide platforms from which endangered polar bears hunt, and when these spreads shrink because of warming temperatures, it becomes harder for the bears to keep up the massive caloric intake that allows them to survive the harsh Arctic environment.
Just days ago, Care2′s Nancy Roberts reported that both NASA and NOAA released data showing that 2010 tied with 2005 as the hottest year for the planet.
Image Credit: Flickr - irishwildcat