A sad story recently published in the scientific journal Polar Biology bears testament to the consequences of the Arctic’s shrinking ice cap. Scientists from the USGS tracked a radio-collared polar bear, who swam for nine days straight in search of ice. In August 2008, when the extent of the ice cap was at its second-lowest ever since record-keeping began in the 1970s, the polar bear dove into the Beaufort Sea from the north coast of Alaska. She had to swim 426 miles until she could find any pack ice to serve as a resting place and a hunting platform. By the time she came upon it, she had lost 22 pounds and her year-old polar bear cub had died. Every August, polar bears enter the water and begin swimming north to the ice cap, but the longer and longer distances between the North American landmass and the Arctic ice cap are making this an ever more perilous journey. While the larger, stronger adults can survive this trek, the little ones aren’t making it.
“Polar bear swims for nine days, pays heavy price,” Discovery News