The “Ice Bear”: The Saga of a Forthcoming Extinction
Adapted to the extreme conditions of living on sea ice, the polar bear's existence is threatened by the receding sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. What is even more alarming is the fact that these carnivores are incapable of reverting to a life on land.
Polar bears and ice go together in our minds as automatically as salt and pepper. The largest of the terrestrial carnivores, polar bears are uniquely adapted to live on Arctic sea ice. The significance of that relationship can be expressed quite simply: polar bears came into existence in the first place because of sea ice - if the ice disappears, so will the polar bears.
Only a million or so years ago - a blink of an eye in evolutionary time - the barren ground grizzly bears roamed the coast of the Arctic mainland, adjacent to a vast new habitat: sea ice. And the ice was home to an unexploited abundance of prey – seals. At some point, grizzlies ventured out onto the sea ice and, as they learned to prey upon the ice-breeding ringed seals, they rapidly...