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Once Upon A Time
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Published on Mar 7, 2012
A Special Video For My Wife, Yuko Yokoyama.
Video Conceptualized & Edited By Aloke Mukerjee. Music: Theme From Finding Nemo(Nemo Egg) by MSU; Tell Me Now(What You See) by Moya Brennan; What A Wonderful World by Sarah Brightman & Rum Diary by Christopher Young. Footage: Vimeo Sources.
The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world's largest land carnivore and also the largest bear. An adult male weighs around 770--1,500 lbs, while an adult female is about half that size. Although most polar bears are born on land, they spend most of their time at sea. Polar bears can hunt their preferred food of seals from the edge of sea ice, often living off fat reserves when no sea ice is present. The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with eight of the nineteen polar bear subpopulations in decline. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of Arctic indigenous peoples, and polar bears remain important in their cultures. The polar bear is found in the Arctic Circle and adjacent land masses as far south as Newfoundland Island. Due to the absence of human development in its remote habitat, it retains more of its original range than any other extant carnivore. It is difficult to estimate a global population of polar bears as much of the range has been poorly studied; however, biologists use a working estimate of about 20,000--25,000 polar bears worldwide.The range includes the territory of five nations: Denmark (Greenland), Norway (Svalbard), Russia, the United States (Alaska) and Canada. Modern methods of tracking polar bear populations have been implemented only since the mid-1980s, and are expensive to perform consistently over a large area. The most accurate counts require flying a helicopter in the Arctic climate to find polar bears, shooting a tranquilizer dart at the bear to sedate it, and then tagging the bear. Polar bears rarely live beyond 25 years. The oldest wild bears on record died at the age of 32, whereas the oldest captive was a female who died in 1991 at the age of 43. The oldest living polar bear was Debby of the Assiniboine Park Zoo, who was probably born in December 1966 and died on November 17, 2008. The causes of death in wild adult polar bears are poorly understood, as carcasses are rarely found in the species frigid habitat. In the wild, old polar bears eventually become too weak to catch food, and gradually starve to death. Polar bears injured in fights or accidents may either die from their injuries or become unable to hunt effectively, leading to starvation. As of 2008, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) reports that the global population of polar bears is 20,000 to 25,000, and is declining. In 2006, the IUCN upgraded the polar bear from a species of least concern to a vulnerable species. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the polar bear is important as an indicator of arctic ecosystem health. Polar bears are studied to gain understanding of what is happening throughout the Arctic, because at-risk polar bears are often a sign of something wrong with the arctic marine ecosystem. The key danger posed by climate change is malnutrition or starvation due to habitat loss. Polar bears hunt seals from a platform of sea ice. Rising temperatures cause the sea ice to melt earlier in the year, driving the bears to shore before they have built sufficient fat reserves to survive the period of scarce food in the late summer and early fall. Reduction in sea-ice cover also forces bears to swim longer distances, which further depletes their energy stores and occasionally leads to drowning. Thinner sea ice tends to deform more easily, which appears to make it more difficult for polar bears to access seals. Insufficient nourishment leads to lower reproductive rates in adult females and lower survival rates in cubs and juvenile bears, in addition to poorer body condition in bears of all ages. The effects of climate change are most profound in the southern part of the polar bear's range, and this is indeed where significant degradation of local populations has been observed. Due to warming air temperatures, ice-floe breakup in western Hudson Bay is currently occurring three weeks earlier than it did 30 years ago, reducing the duration of the polar bear feeding season. The body condition of polar bears has declined during this period; the average weight of lone (and likely pregnant) female polar bears was approximately 640 lbs in 1980 and 510 lbs in 2004. Between 1987 and 2004, the Western Hudson Bay population declined by 22%.
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