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Why Polar Bear conservation needs more action

It has been more than 40 years since the countries in the Arctic region that are home to Polar Bears recognised the urgent need to come together to help the Polar bears and assist in the conservation of the Arctic.

 

What Threats do Polar Bears face?

During the last 40 years the Polar Bears have been exposed to many threats but there are 2 major ones which hugely threaten the Polar Bear population. These threats are the unregulated hunting of Polar Bears up until 1973, and the huge loss of sea ice due to climate change and the rising temperatures in the Arctic.

It is estimated that there are somewhere between 22,000 and 31,000 Polar Bears left in the wild, but scientists have predicted that we will lose a third of the world’s Polar Bears by 2050 if nothing is done to save them.

Without urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Polar Bear population is in real danger but this problem it not just limited to the Arctic but is a global issue with temperatures rising all over the planet.

 

 

Plastic Pollution

 

Polar Bears are also at risk from plastic pollution which seems to reach even the most remote and pristine environments.

A recent expedition to Svalbard by researchers discovered two Polar Bear cubs playing with a sheet of black plastic even though Svalbard is hundreds of miles away from continental Europe as it sits halfway between the mainland of Norway and the North Pole.

The bears were pawing at it and putting the plastic into their mouths and even though Svalbard is relatively remote, everywhere the researchers went they found plastic contaminating the waters.

According to the research team, almost 90% of Fulmars – a white seabird related to the albatross- on the island have been found with pieces of plastic in their gut, with an average of 15 pieces per bird.

 

Sail Against Plastic

Clare Wallerstein is part of the Sail Against Plastic Team which is a group of 15 scientists, artists, filmmakers and campaigners from Cornwall who recently returned from an expedition to the Arctic Circle.

She said:

“We were very lucky to be invited to take part in this unique expedition, and had an amazing time seeing Arctic wildlife, stunning glaciers and experiencing 24-hour sunlight.”

“However, it was also a very sobering experience to see just how much plastic is making its way to this incredibly remote and apparently pristine environment.”

The aim of the expedition was to research the impact of plastic on the marine environment and on the animals that live there. Although Svalbard is twice the size of Belgium, the human population is outnumbered by Polar Bears

 

Expedition

The aim of the expedition was to research the impact of plastic on the marine environment and on the animals that live there. Although Svalbard is twice the size of Belgium, there are only 2,500 people living there and are therefore, greatly outnumbered by Polar Bears on this icy island.

The group trawled through the water looking for both microplastics and large floating bits of plastic. They also tested the air for microplastic fibres, listened for underwater noise pollution and cleaned the beaches.  The team found plastic at every site they surveyed, including some that had travelled a very long distance.

Local Beach cleaners have reportedly found plastic traceable to places such as from Florida on the east coast of America and this inevitably impacts marine life.

 

Human pollution is causing damage to marine life, the Arctic environment and to Polar Bears. This powerful image shows the desperate need for human intervention to help preserve the Arctic and all the life that lives there. It is as a result of human pollution that Polar Bears are endangered, so it is also our responsibility to help.