Polar BearLatin name: Ursus Maritimus,
Conservsation status: vulnerable (population is unknown)
Although it looks white, Polar Bear fur is actually transparent and hollow and traps heat from the sun. The skin under their fur is black and absorbs the sun's heat. They also have a thick layer of fat so overheating can be a bigger problem than staying warm. Polar Bears can swim 6 mph—up to 100 miles at a time—and run as fast as 25 mph.
Polar Bears live only in the Arctic. Loss of sea ice has a critically adverse effect on Polar Bears. They hunt from the edge and build snow dens on the ice for resting and raising their cubs. Sea ice decline could open the Arctic to shipping and tourism, further disturbing Arctic habitats. Other threats are oil development and industrial pollution that reaches the Arctic through air and ocean currents.
Other animals at risk
Koalas live in the woodlands of Australia. Thick fur and skin make it difficult for them to adapt to rising temperatures. Increased CO2 in the air produces less protein in the eucalyptus leaves, forcing the Koala to search for other sources of food and, in times of high heat, water. On the ground, the slow moving Koalas are prey to wild dingoes and domestic dogs, or are hit by cars as they cross roads. Their habitats are also being destroyed by drought, bush fires and development.
In winter, the sun doesn't rise south of the Antarctic Circle. If Antarctic sea ice decreases and does not extend far enough to the north, Adélie Penguins, during their winter migration, may not be able to reach the sunlight needed to navigate, hunt and avoid predators—they won't dive in the dark. Other threats are oil pollution, fishing and disturbance of colonies from research stations and aircraft.
Belugas live in Arctic and Sub-Arctic waters. Impacts from climate change include: an increase in ship traffic as sea ice declines, oil exploration and extraction, fisheries by-catch, and disruption of the food web. As Arctic waters warm and currents change, the Humpback (a competitor) and the Orca (a predator) may move north and stay longer. Some Beluga populations are also threatened by hunting, pollution and habitat loss.
The Narwhal lives mainly in the Atlantic Arctic. Because of specialized habitat, narrow range and limited diet (Arctic cod and halibut), it is one of the Arctic species most vulnerable to climate change. The Narwhal breeds in bays and fjords, moving offshore during winter to areas of heavy ice pack, breathing through the few cracks. Sudden or extreme temperature change can cause these cracks to freeze shut, trapping the whales. Other threats are illegal hunting, industrial activities, and risks from oil development, exploration and shipping in the Arctic.