Polar Bears Research Paper

1384 Words6 Pages
Chih-wei Chen
Giardino, Alexandria
14 March, 2016
Polar Bears in Danger
Oil explorations and oil spills are posing serious threats to polar species, resulting in severe risks to both marine and terrestrial ecosystems and wildlife. Polar bears, the chief predators in the Arctic marine ecosystem, are affected by exposure to oil followed by oil spills. Even though oil pollution and the ratio of spills in the Arctic are on a low level at present, during 1993 to 2007, many oil spill incidents were reported, most of which were the consequences of extreme collisions, groundings, and sinking accidents, leading to long-term consequences to polar species, and even a chance of extinction for polar bears. While there are no tested and operative
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Polar bears are considered as the chief predators in Arctic marine ecosystems; they feed on the fat of ice-dependent seals. In order to cope in icy habitats, polar bears have a distinct set of characteristics. They have a thicker coat of hair than ordinary brown bears, which is blanketing even their feet to provide heat and grip on icy surface. A dense layer of fat (blubber) underneath their coat offers resilience and protection from harsh environmental conditions (“Fact Sheet-Polar Bear”). Oil leakages, on the other hand, occur from pipeline punctures, drainages or outflows, or transport mishaps. Studies examining the effect of oil exposure on polar bears indicate that upon petroleum or fuel exposure, polar bears absorb bulk of oil in their hairy coat. After the physical contact, polar bears can metabolize sufficient quantity of oil, causing kidney malfunction, digestive system imbalance, and brain diseases that lead to death. Removal of thick blanket of hair, and skin and eye irritations are few of the other harmful effects (“Polar bears and oil developments”). Species like polar bears and seals are able to absorb oil across their skin, via gastrointestinal tract, or by inhalation. Once absorbed, it spreads to all tissues in varying quantities. Both seals and cetaceans have an ability to digest oil components with the help of mixed function oxygenase supplement (Geraci & Aubin, n.p.), while physical contact and ingestion in polar bears leads to severe hematological and renal anomalies; together with associated pathological alterations (Engelhardt,

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