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Polar Bears: An Endangered Sight
Trips to see polar bears in the Arctic may become a thing of the past as we approach the 22nd century.
According to researchers at the Arctic Council, sea ice in the Arctic is melting, and by 2100, there may be none left at all during the summer months. Many scientists believe polar bears, along with some species of seals, will accompany the sea ice in its human-induced vanishing act. And life for many other Arctic species, including the walrus, Arctic char and Arctic fox, will become increasingly difficult.
For Gaiam’s Natural Habitat Adventures — an eco-tour provider that helps drive revenue to local communities and educates visitors on ecosystems and their wildlife — bringing people up to Churchill, Manitoba — known as the polar bear capital of the world — for polar bear tours has become a “must do” in nature travel. And anyone who makes the trip to this small, sub-Arctic outpost leaves with a must-do attitude toward polar bear conservation.
“Our Churchill travelers have a much better understanding of how climate change can affect species, including polar bears,” says Ben Bressler, director of Natural Habitat Adventures. “When you see one get on its hind legs and reach up at you with its big, white paws, you can’t help but want to protect this species and help them live unaffected in their habitat forever.”
To help educate travelers, a World Wildlife Fund representative accompanies the group in Churchill and talks about the threats to Arctic species and their habitats, including how climate change is affecting the bears. Of course, Bressler believes just being there speaks volumes.
“A lot of times you don’t have to say anything — they simply absorb it,” he says.