The polar bear can’t find enough seals to fill up

News 1 February, 2018
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    Thursday, 1 February 2018 14:35

    Thursday, 1 February 2018 14:37

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    The polar bear does not find enough seals to fill up and the problem is going to become worse with climate change, according to a study Thursday showing that the metabolism of the king of the pack is higher than estimated.

    “We have discovered that polar bears have, in fact, the energy requirements much higher than expected,” said Anthony Pagano, the lead author of this study published in the journal Science.

    “They need to catch a lot of seals to satisfy a metabolism 1.6-fold more important than that suggested by previous estimates, according to this science of the university of California Santa Cruz.

    Biologists have tracked nine females in the Arctic in the Beaufort sea, equipping the bears housed cameras-collars and comparing their urine and taking blood samples several days apart.

    The study took place at the beginning of the period from April to July when polar bears hunt most actively and store the fat they need to survive all year,” said Mr. Pagano, who also works for the Institute of geological studies of the United States (USGS).

    And despite this, five specimens have lost the body weight in the space of 8 to 11 days. “The four bears have lost 10% or more of their body mass,” the report says.

    Previous assumptions had misled the scientific error on the metabolism of these huge mammals.

    Researchers thought as well as their technique of hunting, which is essentially to wait for the prey, would lead them to spend little energy to feed on. Or they could slow down their metabolism when they are caught not enough seals.

    The Arctic is warming two times faster than the rest of the planet and the melting of the ice has forced bears to travel longer distances to find the young seals which are their favourite food.

    “The ice across the Arctic, decreases of 14% per decade, which is likely to reduce the access of bears to their prey,” details the study.

    The polar bear population has decreased by approximately 40% over the past decade, according to the USGS. But “we now have the technology to study their movements on the ice, their activities and their energy requirements, and thus, we can better understand the implications of the changes that we are seeing on the ice,” reassures Anthony Pagano.