Archive for Polar Bear
Two scientists involved in the so-called ‘Polarbeargate’ scandal have been asked to take lie-detector tests by the US Department of the Interior (DOI). In 2004 Jeffrey Gleason and Charles Monnett wrote a paper on dead polar bears floating in the Arctic, apparently drowned, and in doing so helped highlight the plight of the species in relation to melting Arctic ice. However, this year allegations within the DOI emerged claiming that acts of ‘scientific misconduct’ may have been committed in relation to the report prompting the DOI’s Office of Inspector General to launch an investigation. After several interviews, the DOI suspended Mr Monnett, who works for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, causing accusations of politics interfering with science and a witch-hunt. Although Mr Monnett has since returned to work, the focus has now shifted to his fellow author Mr Gleason, who was asked if he would take a polygraph. He replied that he would only if the agent interviewing him would take one also. ”There appears to be kind of a desperate, almost fierce nature to pursue this until they find something,” said Mr Gleason’s lawyer, Jeff Ruch, of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Mr Ruch has filed a complaint with the DOI saying his client should be investigated by a review board of scientists, and not the Office of Inspector General.
www.telegraph.co.uk 16th August 2011
The deadly attack on the 5th August that resulted in the death of British teenager Horatio Chapple may have been caused by the polar bear’s severe toothache, according to Norwegian vets. The 39 stone male polar bear was shot dead soon after the attack allowing vets to study the body. “Under two of the canines and many of the incisors, the nerves were exposed. This causes serious pain and changes the behaviour of bears,” said Bjoernar Ytrehus from Norway’s Veterinary Institute. The diagnosis led experts to suggest that the bear was either old or sick and therefore unable to eat its normal diet of seals. Vegetables were the likely alternative causing the tooth damage. ”Starving and suffering, a bear is more unpredictable and aggressive than normal,” Dr Ytrehus said. Horatio Chapple was one of 13 travelling with a British Schools Exploring Society expedition. Their campsite was situated on the Von Postbreen glacier on Spitsbergen, north of the Norwegian mainland when the bear attacked. Several others were hospitalised.
www.latimes.com 29th January 2011
The US Geological Survey has tracked a female polar bear swimming for 426 miles in order to find an ice-flow in the Beaufort Sea. The epic journey took 9 days and came at a heavy cost. It was reported that she set out with her cub but the little one did not survive the trip. Furthermore, the length of her swim resulted in the bear losing 22% of her body weight. With little in the way of food at her destination, it is unlikely she will be able to recover. The marathon journey is yet another example of the extent ice is melting in the arctic region due to climate change. During the autumn open water periods in the region, polar bears are subject to either fasting on land until the ice reforms or swimming for ice-flows to find seals. With dramatic reduction in the size of ice-flows over the past few years, polar bears are finding it increasingly difficult to swim for food. The example of this 9-day swim is the most extreme recorded for the species. ”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,” George M. Durner, a USGS zoologist, said. The Obama administration has designated a 187,000 square miles of Alaska as a protection zone for the endangered polar bears but US District Judge Emmet G. Sulivan has ruled that the species must be in “imminent” danger of extinction before being given the status of endangered. The court battle between conservationist groups and oil and gas companies over this issue continues in February. If polar bears are declared endangered then the US will have to reduce its carbon emissions to protect the species.
www.independent.co.uk 16th January 2011
BP have signed an agreement with state-run Russian oil company Rosneft to begin exploration of the Kara Sea, north of Siberia. BP is, so far, responsible for the world’s worst off-shore oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last April. Friends of the Earth, in response to the news of the deal, branded BP “environmental villain number one” and Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Greenpeace have both promised to confront the new BP chief, Bob Dudley. The Kara Sea is one of the few untouched refuges left for a number of species including the Polar Bear, Beluga Whales, Halibut and Arctic Cod. BP has already got in trouble with conservationists over Russian drilling due to their constant seismic surveying, which WWF’s claims has caused harm to the only remaining 130 Western Grey Whales. Of this number, only 30 are female. Following the explosion on board the Deepwater Horizon rig in April 2010, Greenland was the first to ban BP from drilling in its Arctic waters. Evidently, the Russians aren’t quite so squeamish about environmental disasters.
www.telegraph.co.uk 21st September 2010
British broadcaster ITV has made an embarrassing mistake by reporting a dead farm-animal washed up on the shores of Cornwall was in fact a Polar Bear. The TV station hastily dispatched Naomi Lloyd, a news presenter for ITV’ West Country breakfast bulletin, to report on the white animal carcass discovered on a beach near the town of Bude. Ms. Llloyd excitedly described the bizarre story and went on report, “the bear comes from the Arctic Circle and an investigation is under way as to how it could have ended up there.” Video footage of the scene shows a large animal with white fur. However, much to the embarrassment of Ms. Lloyd and her employers, the animal actually turned out to be a cow which had been bleached white by the sea’s saline water. The closest Polar Bears have got to the UK is Greenland as they tend to live on Arctic sea ice. Despite this, the RSPB managed to pull an April Fool’s by claiming that a live Polar Bear had swum to the Isle of Mull. Ms. Lloyd has been unavailable for comment.
The beach at Bude has a reputation for strange things washing up on it. In 2008, seven suit-case sized packages were found containing cocaine with an estimated worth of £2.5 million.