Polar Bear Shrinkage
Alarming news, at least for female polar bears: Polar Bear Genitals are Shrinking.
The icecap may not be the only thing shrinking in the Arctic. The genitals of polar bears in east Greenland are apparently dwindling in size due to industrial pollutants. Scientists report this shrinkage could, in the worst case scenario, endanger polar bears there and elsewhere by spoiling their love lives and causing their numbers to peter out. [Unfortunate choice of words. -ed.]
In fact, all marine mammals could get affected by these pollutants, “especially the Arctic fox, killer whale and pilot whales,” wildlife veterinarian and toxicologist Christian Sonne at the National Environmental Research Institute of Denmark in Roskilde told LiveScience. These animals bodies also carry extremely high levels of these contaminants.
Polar bears from northernmost Norway, western Russia and east Greenland are among the most polluted animals in the Arctic, as they feast on ringed seals and bearded seals. The blubber of these seals accumulates high levels of organic pollutants loaded with halogens such as chlorine. These organohalogens can act like hormones.
For those wondering how the scientists figured this out:
Sonne and his colleagues looked at formaldehyde-preserved genitals from 55 male and 44 female east Greenland polar bears, collected from 1999 to 2002 by about 30 polar bear subsistence hunters regulated by the Greenland government.
Just bad news all around for the bears, I’d say.