Global warming has been a topic of conversation for the better part of a decade. The loss of ice due to the rapid shift in climate has had a lasting effect, especially on the ecosystem and those who inhabit said areas of the earth. Tear-jerking footage of a starving polar bear scouring for food is a harsh reminder of how fragile ecosystems are.
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Photographer Paul Nicklen was visiting Canada’s Baffin Island when he came across a polar bear that was shockingly thin. Nicklen followed the animal as he scoured the surrounding area looking for substance.
Nicklen, who is part conservation group called “Sea Legacy,” acknowledged he was depressed by the sight and even admitted he teared up looking at the animal struggle to walk because it was so weak without food.
“We stood there crying, filming with tears rolling down our cheeks,” he told National Geographic. When asked why he didn’t try and feed the normally massive beast, Nicklen explained how it’s illegal to feed wild polar bears in Canada.
“Of course, that crossed my mind, But it’s not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat.”
He added that even if he had the means of giving the beast food, he would just be prolonging the inevitable. The lack of food took an immense toll on the animal’s body as the video shows him dragging one of his back legs.
According to the Daily Mail, the dragging of the back leg is most likely attributed to muscle atrophy. Nicklen estimated that the bear would have died “within hours or days of this moment” he captured the animal struggling.
The lack of ice, which can be attributed to climate change, is an essential factor for a polar bear to successfully hunt and find food.
Seals are the animals main source of food and without ice to allow the bear to travel an immense icy landscape, the bears are left scouring food as seen in the video and images above.
Nicklen and his organization hope to bring awareness to climate change by showing how it is affecting the population of various species in the north.
“The simple truth is this — if the Earth continues to warm, we will lose bears and entire polar ecosystems. This large male bear was not old, and he certainly died within hours or days of this moment,” he said. “But there are solutions. We must reduce our carbon footprint, eat the right food, stop cutting down our forests, and begin putting the Earth — our home — first.”