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
Before 1800 there were an estimated 10–20,000 Whooping Cranes in North America. By 1941, because of hunting and habitat destruction, there were fewer than 20. There are now approximately 350–380 in the wild. The wild Whooping Crane population has only one winter habitat—a wildlife refuge on the Gulf Coast in Texas; and one spring breeding habitat—a prairie wetlands in Alberta. Severe storms, sea level rise, drought, industrial development and oil spills threaten these habitats. Another significant threat to young Whooping Cranes is colliding with power lines in their migration corridor.
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.
For decades wild salmon populations have been in decline from human causes: over fishing; habitat degradation—logging, mining, agriculture and dams; pollution; and interaction with hatchery or farmed salmon. These conditions and threats may hinder their ability to adapt to the effects of climate change. Salmon thrive at specific freshwater temperatures—warming air raises water temperature. Early snow melt and increased rains cause physical changes to spawning streams.