These images will break your heart: a starving and extremely weak polar bear struggles to make his way on an iceless surface while searching for food.
“My entire @Sea_Legacy team was pushing through their tears and emotions while documenting this dying polar bear. It’s a soul-crushing scene that still haunts me,” wrote photographer Paul Nicklen, the man who took the painful photo and video.
The image was highlighted by National Geographic and has quickly gone viral since. The footage perfectly depicts the dangers of climate change.
“I know we need to share both the beautiful and the heartbreaking if we are going to break down the walls of apathy. This is what starvation looks like. The muscles atrophy. No energy. It’s a slow, painful death. When scientists say polar bears will be extinct in the next 100 years, I think of the global population of 25,000 bears dying in this manner,” added Nicklen.
The photographer explains that there are no easy solutions to the problem and says that they could not have done anything for the bear.
“The simple truth is this—if the Earth continues to warm, we will lose bears and entire polar ecosystems. This large male bear was not old, and he certainly died within hours or days of this moment. But there are solutions. We must reduce our carbon footprint, eat the right food, stop cutting down our forests, and begin putting the Earth—our home—first, wrote Nicklen while asking for help, supporting Sea Legacy.
There are several images and videos of the dying animal taken by both Nicklen and photographer Cristina Mittier Meier, who are part of the Sea Legacy team, an organization dedicated to the conservation of marine life.
According to Meier, the images were captured a few months ago but published only published recently.
It did not take long for mayor new outlets to pick up the footage and story and illustrate, like never before, how animals suffer due to climate change.
The video published on Wednesday already accumulated more than a million views and thousands of comments, from people who were left shocked by the images and videos.
On Sea Legacy’s account, we can see more videos of the bear, that Nicklen assures did not have the age to die, and that the Polar Bear could have passed away days or even hours after the encounter.
In a social media post, the organization explains that the bear was in very bad condition and that the bear, with extremely atrophied legs, could not have been saved.
“It would also have been illegal to feed him, to approach him or even do anything to alleviate his pain,” they say.