National Geographic has crowned the world's polar bear champion in long-distance swimming. The champ is a mother who bear-paddled nine straight days through the Beaufort Sea, traveling 426 miles without a stop. Despite the fact that she shed 22 percent of her body weight through her long-distance exercise, the feat probably brought little if any sense of achievement to the animal. Her cub died along the route.
Polar bears are being forced to swim greater and greater distances to reach land as arctic ice sheets melt, break apart and vanish—as if by some inexplicable force of magic!
According to National Geographic:
"We're pretty sure that these animals didn't have to do these long swims before, because 687-kilometer stretches of open water didn't occur very often in the evolutionary history of the polar bear," said Steven Amstrup, chief scientist for the conservation group Polar Bears International. Amstrup is the former project leader of polar bear research for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
Another female bear in the study swam for more than 12 days, but appears to have found places to rest during her journey.
A GPS study of 50 female polar bears found that five out of 11 mothers who started out long swims accompanied by cubs reached shore without the offspring.
In other news, British climate change skeptic Lord Christopher Monckton announced that cutting carbon emissions is akin to buying a large cricket bat to swat away stray asteroids. "There is no need to take any action at all," he said.
And in case you're the sap who believes a polar bear's experience is more meaningful than an English lord's wisdom, consider these two quotes of genius from Monckton:
"The number of people being killed by this misplaced belief in climate change is if anything greater than the number of people killed by Hitler."
"There is only one way to stop AIDS. That is to screen the entire population regularly and to quarantine all carriers of the disease for life."
Thanks to Boing Boing for the alert.