Polar bears have been listed as a threatened species in the United States under the Endangered Species Act since May 2008, and the World Wildlife Fund lists polar bears as vulnerable to extinction, which is just one step above endangered. A new study now shows that polar bears more prone to starvation than they were previously believed to be.
A group of researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and other institutions weighed and monitored the blood of track nine female polar bears near the Beaufort Sea last April. The researchers continued to monitor the polar bears over a span of 10 days using radio collars. According to the study published on Thursday in the journal Science, the dwindling ice caps are taking its toll on the polar bears.
As their habitats shrink, polar bears are having to swim further away from land in their search for food. Polar bears mostly prey on ringed seals, and the pups are easy prey in the spring. However, the scientists found that the polar bears burned more energy than they were able to take in from their prey.
The research was conducted during a time when the polar bears were supposed to be putting on weight so that they could later have cubs, feed those cubs, and survive the winter. Polar bears hunt from the ice, often waiting for seals to pop out of holes. Other times, the polar bears will swim after the seals. With less ice, polar bears are having to travel more and swim more often, which results in the bears using more energy.
The data collected showed that many of the polar bears ran on an energy deficit, and the metabolic rates, which is the amount of energy their bodies need to function, averaged more than 50 percent higher than previous studies predicted. Five of the bears lost weight and four of them lost 2.9 to 5.5 pounds a day. One bear lost 51 pounds in just nine days.
For now, the findings of the study demonstrates that polar bears require more food to survive than previously previously predicted, and the failure to catch prey will result in rapid, significant weight loss. “This is kind of the initial step, and the next step will be to see how energy expenditure is changing seasonally and how changing ice conditions are ultimately impacting the energy expenditure of these bears,” lead author of the study, research wildlife biologist Anthony Pagano said. Further research will be needed to fully understand the impact of what is happening to the polar bears.
Road Salt is Damaging Waterways: Maybe Beet Juice and Pickle Brine Instead?
Seeking alternate ways to keep the roads clear and vital lakes, rivers and oceans safe.
The good news: the salt put on roads to increase traction and keep them clear for commuters and school buses during snowy and icy weather is very effective. The bad news: it’s terrible for the environment.
The problem is that, after salt gets put on roads, it washes into rivers and lakes, increasing the salinity of these bodies of water.
“Increased salinity can catalyze the release of toxic metals into bodies of freshwater…That’s why some cities are turning to unique concoctions, adding things like beet juice, beer waste, and pickle brine to help salt stick to roads and sidewalks more effectively,” according to Business Insider.
These organic additives help to stick the salt on the pavement, preventing it from polluting nearby rivers and lakes, while also increasing the capacity of the salt to melt ice.
“We’ve seen increasing concentrations in river water, lakes, streams. Then, scientists started asking the question: What is going to happen to the organisms living in freshwater bodies and what will happen to the freshwater bodies as a whole?” Victoria Kelly, from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, told The Associated Press.
Ultimately, while also releasing toxic metals into freshwater, increased salinity creates dead zones at the bottom of rivers and lakes. This has the potential to destroy habitats of algae and zooplankton that is essential to the food chain of these ecosystems.
Using alternative substances like used beer is only in the experimental stage, however, and still needs to be mastered to find the balance between safe roadways and clean waterways.
But still, it has to be better than all those gross salt deposits, right?
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High School Student Arrested After Grandmother Finds Journal Detailing Massacre Plans
Plans for a school shooting were thwarted just a day before the massacre in Parkland, Florida.