Marine Biology Students Participate in Videoconference Live from the Arctic Tundra
By Chloe Hoff, Grade 12
On Tuesday, Dr. Ross-Viola’s marine biology class was given the opportunity to participate in a live videoconference with four polar bear field researchers: Andrew Derocher, Kassie Siegel, Julene Reed and Evan Richardson. All of the researchers were trained professionals currently working in Churchill, Manitoba, a town off the shore of the Hudson Bay in Canada. The four scientists are part of a large group that works together to help limit the decline in polar bears by researching potential threats, going out into the tundra by means of “tundra buggies” and educating others on how to help conserve energy and decrease the amount of green house gases.
Seven schools, ranging from the east coast to the west coast, participated in the videoconference, watching video clips and pictures of polar bears, and listening to the researchers talk about the struggles that polar bears are currently facing. At the end of the conference, students from each school were allowed to ask the researchers questions via web cameras. The scientists were honest in answering the students’ questions, admitting to the fact that humans have a big part in the tremendous decrease of polar bears over the years due to a rise in greenhouse gases which have been creating holes in the ozone layer. This is a direct cause of the increase in temperature which affects the environment that the bears live in. Ice sheets are forming over the Hudson Bay later in the winter and melting earlier in the summer, decreasing the polar bears’ feeding season. As a result, the bears struggle to find food while hunting and are beginning to appear skinnier and not as healthy.
The researchers continued to answer questions, explaining how polar bear skin is black to help them conserve heat, how polar bears are “lipivores” in that they eat blubber and fat rather than meat, and how polar bears have the ability to make their own water internally. As a conclusion of sorts, the scientists made a point in informing the students on ways to help the environment, ultimately helping the polar bears. Little things such as limiting time travel in cars, recycling, using solar panels on homes, and unplugging a cell phone charger after it has been used are all ways to help conserve energy.
The idea of conserving energy has been briefly discussed in Dr. Ross-Viola’s marine biology class. Based around the study of oceanic characteristics, marine organisms and other aquatic life forms, the class has learned that pollution, trash, fertilizers and other human wastes can disturb marine environments, like that of the polar bear. As a society, we should all be more educated on the conservation of energy. St. Margaret’s is doing its part in the community by distributing recycling bins around campus and encouraging students and faculty to “go green.” This overall attempt of conserving energy and limiting the amount of greenhouse gases is just one step that leads us closer to reducing global warming as well as helping rescue the endangered polar bears.