Powerful yet fragile; these words best describe the polar bear and the habitat where the bears reside. The polar bear is an animal of supreme beauty and power. Polar bears can kill swiftly with one powerful strike from their expansive paws. The inviting cuddly image of the polar bear hides the quiet power, of a fierce predator. Polar bears may be lost to the world forever if the habitat of the bear continues to shrink at the rate it is presently dwindling. The icy, frigid, landscape that is home to the polar bear is under constant threat from global warming. Polar bears are essentially without any natural enemies, they are the dominant species in their ecosystem. Their dominance however, cannot compete with the effect of a reducing land mass, the reduction of available food and low birth rates. Many of these challenges can be directly linked to global warming and its attendant effects. Unless there is a rapid and immediate reversal of the conditions that have given rise to the environmental phenomenon of global warming the bear populations will continue to reduce until they are extinct. This man made problem requires that the collective action of countries be engaged to produce a turnaround.
Since 2008 the polar bear was considered under a serious enough threat to be placed listed on the U.S. Endangered Species list (Polar bears 2012). The action of the U.S. government indicates the seriousness of the problem and underscores the need for prompt action. The survival of the animal is in jeopardy because of the constant and unrelenting destruction of a natural habitat that cannot be duplicated. This essay will describe the polar bear, and its habitat. Additionally, the destructive role of global warming, through the rise of ocean temperatures will be explored to aid in the comprehension of the problem. It will be apparent at the end of this essay that there is a need for immediate action by all the relevant agencies, both governmental and non-governmental.
One of the most interesting features of polar bears is that even though they appear to be terrestrial animals they are classified as marine mammals (Polar bears 2012). This classification occurs because the bears spend the largest part of their life in the cold, frozen Artic sea ice. This first thrilling and fascinating fact about the bears is also the main reason that any threat to the Artic Sea will result in the reduction of the habitat of the bears. The polar region is a harsh and unforgiving environment. Living in these conditions is very difficult because of the arid nature of the environment. In the polar region the winds are beastly cold and the rush across the landscape at bone numbing speeds. Added to the challenge of the winds is the fact that the average winter temperatures of the polar region can sink well into negative digits. These temperatures are beyond icy cold they can freeze an individual to death in the matter of minutes. Skin that is exposed to these hostile conditions can freeze immediately upon contact with the wind and the vicious cold. This condition is complemented with winter nights that can last for several months. With the night lasting for several months it is virtually impossible for vegetation that depends on regular sunshine to exist. The creatures that survive in this environment would have to adapt and evolve special features to compensate for the hostile conditions that can destroy life.
The harsh nature of the arctic region means that polar bears have evolved specific adaptations to be successful in these harsh conditions. The bears have a very thick layer of fat. The fat provides insulation for the bear against the vicious cold. Additionally, polar bears have a very thick water-repellant coat, which protects them from the cold air and the frigid water in which they swim (Polar Bears 2012). There are few land animals that can compete with polar bears in the swimming department. The bears are not only excellent swimmers by the pace of their swimming has been measured at an average of six miles per hour. This speed is accomplished by using their front paws as paddles and their hind legs as a rudder to guide the bear. Survival is critical to all animals and the bears are no different and, about half of the time of the bear is spent hunting for food. Unfortunately, many of the…