translated from Spanish: International Polar Bear Day: an icon of the impact of climate change

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are magnificent animals, recognized worldwide for their characteristic fur, large size and for being considered the kings of the Arctic.
This fascinating species, classified within marine mammals, is an icon of the north pole and is essential for maintaining the balance of biodiversity in its ecosystem.
Today, polar bears face a serious life-threatening danger: climate change, a phenomenon that directly affects their home and way of life. Relying heavily on Arctic sea ice to hunt seals, these bears have to wait longer and longer without feeding, as it is melting earlier in the spring and forms later in the fall.
Over the years, this situation has become critical, as the difficulty in getting food is increasing as it involves a very high energy expenditure to withstand the prolonged fast they must go through.
Climate change is also causing further fragmentation of its habitat, and as Arctic ice melts, there is an increase in maritime transport, associated, for example, with oil and gas exploitation.
Over the decades, the relevance of these super predators has grown exponentially, becoming an icon of the battle against climate change. In Russia and Alaska, WWF faces this challenge by supporting local efforts to protect people and polar bears.
This is complemented by monitoring their populations, reducing impacts generated by productive activities and protecting the latest arctic sea ice regions.

Interesting facts about polar bears
From WWF Chile they seek to commemorate this “International Polar Bear Day” with a few facts about this species:
1.- They are not white. Its striking fur, apparently white, is actually transparent, as they do not have any type of pigment. Each hair reflects the light that reaches them, causing the color to which we are accustomed. In fact, the bear’s skin is actually black, attracting solar radiation and increasing body heat.
2.- Blood instead of water. For them, drinking water is not a vital necessity, as much of the Arctic’s fresh water is frozen and the sea water in their environment is salty and acidic. Therefore, all the fluids they consume come from the blood of their prey and the breakdown of the fat they store in their body.
3.- Super smell. Their olfactory capacity is so acute that they can detect a seal swimming in the water, under a metre of snow, and if that were not, being a kilometer away.
4.- Guinness record. Guinness World Records places polar bears as the largest terrestrial carnivores on the planet. Adult males typically weigh between 400 and 600 kilos, and have a length of 2.4 to 2.6 meters, from nose to tail.
5.- Faster than a steed. They can reach speeds of around 40 km per hour, however, running so fast means too high an energy expenditure for the amount of food they eat, so it is very common for them to do so.
6.- Swim non-stop. It is known that the longest swim a polar bear has done is a distance of 687 km in a row. The journey was recorded in the Beaufort Sea, in the Arctic Ocean near North America. Unfortunately, the cause of this voyage was thaw.
7.- A third can disappear. The population of polar bears is estimated to be between approximately 22,000 and 31,000 specimens worldwide. However, by 2050, the number may decrease by 30% due to the rapid loss of sea ice, an element on which they depend to hunt, reproduce and rest.
In addition to the ancestral cultural importance it has for the communities of the boreal region, polar bears play a key role at the top of the trófic chain and in the well-being of the marine environment, which is why they are a primary indicator for knowing the “health status” of the north pole. They can be said to be “the canaries” of the natural mine that is the Arctic.

Original source in Spanish

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