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The Issue of the Stranded Polar Bear Image
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View an Australian news broadcast reporting about the issue of a well-known photograph of polar bears appearing to be stranded on an ice floe in the Arctic actually originating from a photograph taken in the middle of the summer when the ice always breaks up. Also mentioned is the fact that bears are very good swimmers.

Following is a transcript from the three minute Australian news broadcast:

This well known picture has frequently been used as evidence to show the effects of global warming and its effects on the polar bear populations. It has been reprinted by many mainstream newspapers and used by Al Gore in slide presentations. But the photo wasn't current--it was 2 1/2 years old and it wasn't snapped by Canadian environmentalists, it was taken by Austrian marine biology student Amanda Bryd on a summertime field trip in August, when every year the ice breaks up regardless of the wider effects of global warming.

Bryd (when talking about the polar bears ): "They did not appear to be in danger.. I did not see the bears get on the ice, and I did not see them get off.. I cannot say either way if they were stranded or not."

Dennis Semard of Environment Canada, who told Canada's National Post: "You have to keep in mind that the bears are not in danger at all. This is the perfect picture for climate change. You have the impression they are in the middle of the ocean and they are going to die. But they are not that far from the coast, and it was possible for them to swim, they are still alive and having fun."

Photographer Amanda Byrd gave her photo to fellow cruiser Dan Crosby to have a look. Byrd: "Dan Crosby gave the image to the Canadian Ice Service, who gave the image to Environment Canada, who distributed the image to seven media agencies, including AP."

Associated press released the photo 2 1/2 years after it was taken, on the day the United Nations released its major global warming report. That's where Sydney's Sunday Telegraph got the photo, running it from a story taken from the Daily Mail.

Amanda Byrd didn't think her photo necessarily described whether Global Warming is occuring. Byrd: "I take neither stand, I simply took the photos. If I released the image myself, it would have been as a striking image, nothing more."

However that is not how Al Gore saw it, he used it in a presentation on global warming: "Their habitat is melting, beautiful animals literally being forced off the planet... [Polar Bears] are in trouble, got nowhere else to go." Audience members reportedly let out gasps of sympathy.






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