Plight of the polar bear is only getting worse

Image courtesy Kathy Crane, NOAA Arctic Research Program
Image courtesy Kathy Crane, NOAA Arctic Research Program

For my daughters, the eternal conservationists and animal right activists.

Looks like polar bears have more than climate change and man’s encroachment to contend with. New research suggests that they are now also threatened by environmental contamination and plastic pollution.

While climate change is still considered the biggest threat, contamination and pollution are now a growing concern as they pose health risks to Ursus maritimus, one of the largest carnivorous mammals on Earth.

Typically, when you think about plastic pollution, the first thing that comes to mind is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. However, as this writer believes, there must be a “trickle up effect” whereby polar bears in the Arctic catch and eat prey which have already been exposed to such contaminants. Think of the food chain, only backwards in the case of plastics and contaminants.

So what are these new threats doing to the polar bear? According to the new research, plastic pollution and environmental contaminants are affecting the endocrine reproductive systems of this mammal. Definitely a bad mix for these endangered mammals

And this new research comes at an important time for the polar bear. Knowing the new risks will allow conservationists and scientists to better monitor their health and formulate better strategies for their preservation.

More information available here.


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