2011-09-21 01:37:45Rare Arctic creatures in trouble -- CNN.TED
John Hartz
John Hartz

Rare Arctic creatures in trouble

CNN updated 7:36 AM EST, Tue September 20, 2011

Paul Nicklen makes friends with Arctic wildlife, photographing seals, polar bears, narwhals and others in remarkable closeups.

And Nicklen, a contributing photographer for the National Geographic, is passing along a message from the creatures he sees: They're in trouble.

The reason is that the sea ice is disappearing, removing a key element from the environment sustaining Arctic life.

Nicklen, whose work has been recognized with multiple awards, tracked the rare spirit bear for a National Geographic cover story. From the age of 4, when his family moved to Inuit territory in Canada, Nicklen has explored the region, in later years as a biologist and a photographer.

He spoke at the TED2011 conference in Long Beach, California, in March, where he was interviewed by CNN.

Watch Paul Nicklen's TED Talk

Nicklen pitched a project to the National Geographic on the leopard seal, a 12-foot long, 1,000-pound creature with a ferocious reputation. He was prepared for hostility but upon spotting one, he was surprised to find it tried to feed him its prey, penguins. "So I went there terrified of what I might meet in this leopard seal and actually was nurtured and protected and cared for," he said in the interview. "It was the most incredible encounter of my career by far."

Nicklen said that polar bears could face extinction within 50 to 100 years if ice continues to recede.

"We know the science. We know that ice is disappearing and after a while it just becomes a statistic. And with my photography I want people to understand that if we lose ice, we stand to lose an entire ecosystem.

"This is our one chance at life on this planet. Our planet is in trouble and we are not reacting fast enough."

2011-09-21 01:47:42


Yes, as Nicklen points out, the issue is not one or two charismatic species: The issue is whole ecosystems.

In my estimation, the loss of species and ecosystems is the single greatest threat of AGW. I don't really care that much if NYC loses some shoreline.

2011-09-21 02:25:14Here's the graphic accompanying the LTEs
John Hartz
John Hartz

2011-09-25 05:39:10
Anne-Marie Blackburn
Anne-Marie Blackburn

Yes, I'm thinking we could do with an article on the impact climate change is having on species in general in the Arctic. I'm currently working on a post on polar bears, maybe I could work on both at the same time?