The Atlantic

What Scientists Learned From Strapping a Camera to a Polar Bear

Hours of film showed the animals just living life—and suggested that, in the age of climate change, their day-to-day existence may get much harder.
Source: USGS

You may have seen a recent viral video that showed a polar bear in the throes of suffering. The beast seems to be in the final hours of its life—its legs wobbling under its weight, its pupils widened in pain, its yellow fur hanging loosely off its bones—as it gnaws on trash, lays down, and shuts its eyes.

Paul Nicklen, the conservationist who shot the video, said he hoped the haggard bear would reveal the true face of climate change. “When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like,” he told National Geographic. “Bears are going to starve to death. This is what a starving bear looks like.”

Millions of people saw the clip—and polar-bear researchers added some caveats. “It is what a starving bear looks like for sure, because I’ve seen some,” Ian Stirling, a research scientist emeritus with the Canadian government, told me. “Now, we don’t know if that bear was starving to death, or if it was suffering from something else, without doing a proper necropsy. But it certainly looked like it was starving.”

Whatever the fate of that one bear, many more will soon look much like it. , published this week in the journal shows that bears are even more vulnerable to undernourishment than once thought. Polar bears have higher daily energy demands than other apex carnivores, the paper finds, and

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