A "soul-crushing" footage of a polar bear starving and in its final moments of life has surfaced online, after it reduced the filmmaker and his entire crew to tears.
Scavenging for food in a rubbing bin, the polar bear can be seen stringing on to life – barely – and scientists believe the root cause of it all is global warming.
Photographer Paul Nicklen and his crew from the Sea Legacy spotted the bear on the Canadian Baffin Islands this summer – one of the places to have been largely hit by the adversities of global warming.
The images and video captured are disturbing and heartbreaking indeed as the bear can be seen weathered and bony, the white hair's coat reduced to a thin layer hanging off its frame as it drags its legs behind it, struggling to keep up.
Speaking to National Geographic, Paul said: "We stood there crying, filming with tears rolling down our cheeks."
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, but 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. There is no band aid solution. There was no saving this individual bear. People think that we can put platforms in the ocean or we can feed the odd starving 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. Please join us at @sea_legacy as we search for and implement solutions for the oceans and the animals that rely on them—including us humans. Thank you your support in keeping my @sea_legacy team in the field. With @CristinaMittermeier #turningthetide with @Sea_Legacy #bethechange #nature #naturelovers This video is exclusively managed by Caters News. To license or use in a commercial player please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 121 616 1100 / +1 646 380 1615”
While dragging its legs behind is most likely due to muscle atrophy from lack of food, the loss of ice had a huge role to play in that too, as polar bears mostly rely on platforms of ice to reach their preys.
The feeding of wild polar bears is considered illegal in Canada, but even if the crew was allowed to feed, the bear's condition was reportedly beyond any help. "Of course, that crossed my mind, but it's not like I walk around with a tranquillizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat," Paul added.
The photographer took to Instagram to share the haunting reality of melting ice caps due to global warming, and mentioned that the bear had probably died, "within hours or days of this moment."
Also writing in the caption to his post, he said: "My entire Sea Legacy team was pushing through their tears and emotions while documenting this dying polar bear."
And they weren't the only ones as the viral video has left a deep impact on multiple social media users too.
Dear god, I just saw that national geographic video of a starving polar bear and I'm suddenly completely okay with never owning a car in my life. We forget so easily about global warming & continue to overpopulate. My heart breaks for the animals that have no chance. ??— Sgt. Pepper ❤️ (@Beatrixxx92) December 9, 2017
Next person who puts that starving polar bear on my timeline again is getting blocked and reported— KFC (@KFCBarstool) December 10, 2017
I 69 science crowd: "OMG guys a polar bear is starving!! There couldn't be any other explanation for a mammal to look like that except climate change!!"— Justin Ellis (@_JustinEllis) December 11, 2017
I’ve been avoiding the polar bear starving video like the plague but then I realized I’m just as complacent with those who deny it outright if I continue to avoid it. We must care for our fragile home.— Rev. Rob Lee (@roblee4) December 9, 2017
Meat eaters crying at that video of the starving polar bear is the most ironic thing to ever happen.... animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change ??♀️— Skye (@skyewxx) December 10, 2017
The starving polar bear you're seeing on the TL wasn't the first Paul Nicklen has documented recently. Our planet is crying; we're destroying entire ecosystems & ultimately YOUR entire way of life. Please, please consider making changes to soften your blow on our environment ❤️ https://t.co/J0WXrf7nIr— Savannah Rachelle (@savannimalz) December 9, 2017