Polar Bear’s Incredible Swim To Find Ice: 9 Days, 426 Miles

Filed in Gather News Channel by on February 2, 2011 0 Comments

A female polar bear spent nine days swimming across the Beaufort Sea in the Alaska region in a desperate hunt for ice to settle on. She was accompanied by her cub who, sadly, did not survive the journey. The warming trends in Alaska are what sent this bear on her epic journey to find ice.


Photo Credit: mueller from morguefile.com

According to the Los Angeles Times, scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Wyoming were monitoring the polar bear via a collar equipped with a GPS tracking device.

“Our activity data suggests that she swam constantly for nine days, without any rest. Which is pretty incredible,” George M. Durner, a zoologist heading up a study of polar-bear migration said. “We have observed other long-distance swimming events. I don’t believe any of them have been as long in time and distance as what we observed with her … How often does this happen? We’re trying to get a handle on that.”

AlaskaÂ’s polar bear habitat is disappearing rapidly, and environmental groups are placing the blame on AlaskaÂ’s officials. Although the Obama administration has designated 187,000 square miles in Alaska polar-bear protected zones, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell wants to suspend the Endangered Species Act which protects the polar bears.

Parnell instead wants to explore the designated protection zones for gas and oil, arguing that this could bring in “hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue for the state” of Alaska.

It is amazing that this polar bear was able to survive her nine day quest for ice. It is also incredibly sad that she, and other polar bears, would be forced out of their habitat. While global warmth may be inevitable, the location where there is a search for gas and oil is something that can be controlled.

According to a 2006 60 Minutes report, scientists believe that if the current climate trends continue, polar bears will be extinct by the end of the century. If the Endangered Species Act keeps the polar bears habitat protected, the end of the polar bear species could come sooner.

While it is an amazing accomplishment for the female polar bear to have survived a nine-day swim without rest, she also shed 100 pounds in the process, which also puts her life at risk. Scientist Bob Corell said todayÂ’s surviving polar bears are much skinnier than those of previous generations.

Is it worth further displacing an endangered species to seek revenue?

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