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Ontario study says polar bears losing weight due to shrinking ice

The polar bears breath catches the light to look like it's breathing fire. A polar bear looks like he is breathing fire as his warm breath is lit perfectly by the setting sun. Despite temperatures below zero, the predator's orangey breath - highlighted by the low sun - provides a little warmth to a freezing environment in the Arctic. Photographer Josh Anon was on a small boat 82 degrees north at the edge of the ice pack that defines the north pole region when he came across a bear with a fresh kill. The 33-year-old, from San Francisco, California, USA, was only about 15m from the polar bear. A Polar Bear roams the Arctic ice - 25 Dec 2015. Josh Anon/Solent News/REX/Shutterstock

The world’s southernmost population of polar bears has already lost significant amounts of body weight after decades of shrinking sea ice.

And new research from the Ontario government says breeding females are suffering the most from having fewer days to hunt seals — an essential fatty, energy-rich meal.

The study shows that climate change has led to bears spending about 30 days less on the shrinking sea ice along Ontario’s Hudson Bay coastline than they did in the 1980s.

READ MORE: Scientists warning of a record low for Arctic sea ice

At the same time, their average weights have dropped by 45 kilograms for males and 30 kilograms for females.

Scientists say because females are only half the size of males, the loss is much more significant for them -probably because they have to nurse cubs as well as keep themselves healthy.

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Researchers say at some point, the decline will reduce breeding success.

There are now about 900 bears in region, a number that’s been stable for decades.

WATCH: Large number of polar bears are appearing around Hudson Bay
Click to play video: 'Large number of polar bears are appearing around Hudson Bay' Large number of polar bears are appearing around Hudson Bay
Large number of polar bears are appearing around Hudson Bay – Feb 28, 2016

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