Whether or not melting sea ice, unabated global warming and climate degradation will lead to the inevitable demise of the polar bear? The scientist community is divided on this question.
A study carried by a group of researchers under the leadership of biologist Karen Rode, from the US Geological Survey research wildlife, found that polar bears are forced to live on land as the sea ice is disappearing unabatedly. These marine mammals mostly survive on sea ice and normally spend most of their lives there while dining specifically on fat-rich seal meat.
The researchers from Polar Bear International and Washington State University also contributed in the study.
The scientists concluded their findings after reviewing a current polar bear research that suggests displaced marine animals who are deprived of their regular seal diet rich in lipids are gradually adapting to a new land-based habitat for food.
According to the researchers, if the dependency of polar bears on land increases in a healthy manner then their chances of survival will also rise, especially when the planet Earth is continuously warming, triggering the melt down of more and more sea ice. Unfortunately, the researchers say this is not the case with the marine animals.
Steven Amstrup, study co-author, the chief scientist at Polar Bear International and a retired polar bear expert at USGS, said, “This paper establishes in no uncertain terms that polar bears are very unlikely to be able to make a living on land, and that if we don’t save the sea ice, polar bears will indeed be gone.”
As per the report, the findings made by Rode’s study are not universally accepted.
Robert Rockwell, a population biologist and an ecologist at City College of New York who has been taking deep observations of polar bears for almost five decades at western Hudson Bay, said that he has seen these marine animals getting adapted to a land-based diet by eating goose eggs and caribou calves.
Even if these marine species are transforming to a land-based diet, Rode and her team argued, it will be hard for them to satisfy their energy requirements.
The study was published on Wednesday in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.