https://polarbearscience.com/2018/07/26/the-truth-behind-the-baffin-bay-starving-polar-bear-video-is-worse-than-we-thought/Mr Nicklen and Ms Mittermeier are co-founders of the conservation group Sea Legacy, with a declared mission to "use the power of storytelling to create the change we want to see".
Canada's National Post newspaper argues: "These images aren't the work of a scientist, an impartial documentarian or even a concerned bystander. They are part of a very calculated public relations exercise."
This particular animal could also simply have been sick. Biologist Jeff Higdon, writing on Twitter, speculated that it could have some form of aggressive cancer.
"It's not starving because the ice suddenly disappeared and it could no longer hunt seals," he said. "The east Baffin coast is ice free in summer. It's far more likely that it is starving due to health issues." However, he warned that he could not be sure.
"I wasn't totally surprised," he told the broadcaster. "These things happen. Everybody probably was shocked to see a really skinny bear, but this is not my first time seeing something like this."
He also speculated that the bear was either ill or suffering from an injury that prevented it from hunting.
[Remember that video of an emaciated Baffin Island Somerset Island polar bear that went viral last December?[SUP]1[/SUP] In an unexpected follow-up (“Starving-Polar-Bear Photographer Recalls What Went Wrong“; National Geographic, August 2018 issue), photographer Cristina Mittermeier makes some astonishing admissions that might just make you sick.
It turns out they didn’t just come across the dying bear the day it was filmed: it was spotted at least two days earlier by Paul Nicklen. He must have had a satellite phone with him when he saw the bear but the only call he made was to his film crew — he made no attempt to find a local conservation officer to euthanize the bear, which would have been the right thing to do.
ADDED July 27 2018: Calling a conservation officer to euthanize the bear would have been the right thing to do not only out of compassion (and to know the cause of illness, because a necropsy would have been done), but because a starving bear is especially dangerous: it would have been a potential danger to any unsuspecting person who set foot on the island (he was strong enough to swim away, so was probably strong enough to kill a child, if not an adult).
The bear’s emaciated, near-death stagger[SUP]2[/SUP] was simply too tantalizing to pass up (video needs action: an emaciated dead bear would not been nearly as effective). Mittermeier claims they knew when they filmed the bear that he was sick or injured, but Nicklon presented it as an effect of climate change regardless.
Mittermeier now says National Geographic simply “went too far” with their video caption (“This is what climate change looks like“), that she and Nicklan “lost control of the narrative.”