Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wild at Heart: The Polar Bear

Over the next week and a half, I will be bringing you previews of the work that will be exhibited at May 26th's "Wild at Heart: Keep Wildlife in the Wild," the endangered species benefit that Andrew Hosner and I are co-curating at Thinkspace. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Hope to see you there!

Scott Belcastro "Carbon Exhale"

The Polar Bear is the world’s largest land carnivore, and is something of an ecological marvel. Its nearly transparent guard hairs are hollow and filled with air, allowing sunlight to pass through and warm its black skin while trapping its heat beneath. The polar bear hunts seals from a platform of sea ice, so global warming is its gravest threat. Rising temperatures cause sea ice to melt earlier in the year, driving the bears to shore before they have built up sufficient fat reserves to survive the period of food scarcity in the late summer and early fall. Reduction in sea-ice cover also forces bears to swim longer distances, which further depletes their energy stores and occasionally causes them to drown after swimming to utter exhaustion.

In 2011, a polar bear was tracked swimming through the 36° waters of the Beaufort Sea continuously for nine days, covering 426 miles in search of an ice floe to hunt from. Her epic journey cost her 22% of her body fat and the life of her yearling cub.

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