Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Paul Nicklen: Tales of ice-bound wonderlands

(Ted Talk)

Rating: *****

This was a really awesome Ted Talk. Paul Nicklen tells the story of how our polar ice caps are disappearing at a frightening rapid pace. He tells stories about species of creatures that are dependent on the ice and how they are at risk of disappearing also.

Paul Nicklen is a wildlife photographer for National Geographic magazine.  In his talk, he shows the story of his travels to both the Arctic and Antarctic polar regions. In his slides, he shows the wonderful life of a ‘Spirit’ Bear as he follows it around the forest. This bear is very rare, only 200 bears are thought to exist in the world (this is even less than the Panda Bear). It is a large, white bear that more resembles an albino grizzly than a polar bear. He also touches on the gradual loss of the Polar Bear.  Both of these bear are dependent on the ice for food. As the ice continues to melt and leave, so will these magnificent bears.

In the Antarctic, Paul sets out to try to prove that Leopard seals are not as vicious as everyone believes. He and his guide encounter a large female seal and he dives into the water with it. At first the seal shows him a threatening move, but then she relaxes. She spends the next 4 days trying to feed the poor man penguins.  She tried live penguins and dead penguins. She would get frustrated and blow bubbles at him, not understanding why he won’t take the food. He believes that she eventually gives up and tries to attack him, only to realize that another seal had swam up behind him – she chased the other seal away. Paul’s conclusion was that these seal were not the vicious creatures that everyone thinks and they too, need help. The ice in the Antarctic is also melting rapidly, affecting the food chain of all the creatures there – the penguins, the seals, etc.

Paul Nicklen’s humour and passion, along with amazing photographs, make his story almost come to life and leave you with a sense of wonderment and sadness for the loss of such wonderful creatures and their amazing ecosystems.  Paul goal in life, through his photography, is to increase awareness of the tragic loss that is happening at the polar ice caps. Hopefully, we will all start to pay attention and try to make a difference.

Nicklen, Paul. “Tales of ice-bound wonderlands”, Ted Talk.  Filmed Mar 2011, Posted May 2011, TED2011.

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