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Global warming is causing the thinning of sea ice, the polar ice caps are shrinking and the hunting grounds of polar bears are melting under their very feet. That is the essence of the problem facing these magnificent creatures. A recent report on global warming by over 300 scientists predict that by the end of this century the artic ice cap could shrink by half, or even disappear totally. If this happens,  it would cause the estimated population of 20,000-25,000 polar bears and countless other artic species to go extinct. Scientists, for the first time ever, have documented multiple deaths of polar bears off Alaska, where they more than likely drowning by being forced to swim long distances in the ocean. Prior to 2004, the spotting of a lone bear swimming in the ocean far from ice only happened about once every two years. A rare event. But not any more. The rules of the game have changed, the ice caps are melting and this is forcing these great creatures to swim farther in search of food, far beyond their normal range, and as a result they are dying. Polar bears can swim long distances but have evolved to mainly swim just between sheets of ice. In September of 2004, researchers counted 10 bears swimming as far as 60 miles offshore.

 

Chart showing flame retardant levels in Artic Ringed Seals, from wwwourstolenfuture.orgAnother just as sinister a threat to these great animals is pollution from chemicals used in flame retardants and pesticides. Originating largely in the United States these chemicals are building up in their bodies and having toxic effects. The flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyls, or PBDEs, are one of the newest additions to hundreds of industrial compounds and pesticides carried to the Arctic by northbound winds and ocean currents. Accumulating in the fatty tissues of animals, many chemicals grow more concentrated as larger creatures eat smaller ones, turning the Arctic's top predators and native people into some of the most contaminated living organisms on Earth.

In polar bears, the effects are unknown. But in tests on laboratory animals, PBDEs disrupted thyroid and sex hormones and damaged developing brains, impairing motor skills and mental abilities, including memory and learning. Scientists say that other industrial chemicals with properties similar to PBDEs are already weakening the bears' immune systems, altering their bone structure, skewing their sex hormones and perhaps even causing small numbers of hermaphroditic bears.

LINKS
The links below will take you to some great websites about polar bears.
The best sites to start for general information are marked with a star .
If you have a site that you think should be listed,
please email me.

Official, Scientific & Governmental Sites
Endangered Species Organizations

Mass Extinction of Species

 

OFFICIAL, SCIENTIFIC & GOVERNMENTAL SITES

The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums
The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums is an international association representing marine life parks, aquariums, zoos, research facilities, and professional organizations dedicated to the highest standards of care for marine mammals and to their conservation in the wild through public education, scientific study, and wildlife presentations.

Polar Bears International

Polar Bears International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of the polar bear.

SeaWorld: Polar Bears
General information about polar bears

World Wildlife Fund: Polar Bears
World Wildlife Fund web pages on endangered species
 

ENDANGERED SPECIES ORGANZATIONS

ICUN World Conservation Union
The World Conservation Union is the world’s largest and most important conservation network. The Union brings together 82 States, 111 government agencies, more than 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. The Union’s mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre
The United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is the biodiversity assessment and policy implementation arm of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the world's foremost intergovernmental environmental organization.

US Fish & Wildlife Webpages on Endangered Species
The American endangered species list maintained by the US Fish & Wildlife Service

Word Conservation Union ICUN Red List of Endangered Species

IUCN - The World Conservation Union, through its Species Survival Commission (SSC) has for four decades been assessing the conservation status of species, subspecies, varieties and even selected subpopulations on a global scale in order to highlight species threatened with extinction, and therefore promote their conservation.

MASS EXTINCTION OF SPECIES


American Museum of Natural History Statement  

The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species

Professor David  Ulansey's Website -Mass Extinction Underway