16 Terrifying Worms & Parasites Living in the Water
1. Norwegian University Attack
The Norwegian University attack, also known as the 2011 Svalbard polar bear attack, is a grim tale from just about every angle. In the game of polar bear versus human, the two are at a sad stalemate.
The polar bear who attacked the unlucky college kids and their guides was starving and wandering far from its home to find a slew of students camping out near the Von Post glacier.
The sickly bear attacked the group, slaughtering one student and injuring three more in a nighttime massacre that may have been preventable. The bear was shot and killed by Spike Reid, an expedition leader who shot the creature and saved other students from untold carnage.
In retrospect, Norwegian authorities determined that the bear attack happened because of a perfect storm of factors. There was no night security guard on that drizzly and foggy fateful eve, and the students were camping out in tents instead of in cabins, which would have made the bear less likely to detect and attack them.
Finally, the bear’s emaciated state suggested that it was frantically trying to survive by going after unconventional prey.
2. Starving Bears
Polar bears burn a lot of energy just existing, so it’s no surprise that they need quite a bit of fuel just to keep their engines running smoothly. Unfortunately, the rapidly melting polar ice means that there’s less food for the bears to eat, leading to a grave and predictable consequence; starvation.
Bears have to track food longer, swim further, and expel more energy just to get their paws on some tasty prey. More and more bears are becoming emaciated, and the lack of food is a vicious circle for them.
They don’t have enough energy to hunt properly, so they can’t catch the food they need to sustain themselves and become even sicker. Starving bears are also desperate bears, which is why we’ve seen an uptick in polar bear attacks as they are forced out of their polar home into populated areas, famished and looking for a meal.
3. Berlin Zoo
Attack If there’s ever a cautionary tale that wild animals are not friendly domesticated pets or playthings, it’s the Berlin Zoo attack.
On April 13th, 2009, a woman identified only as “Mandy K” decided to cool off by jumping into the polar bear enclosure to take a dip in the moat. Unsurprisingly, the bears weren’t having any of it, especially since Miss Mandy chose feeding time as the ideal hour to take her swim.
The bears hastily attacked, biting the German woman repeatedly until she was finally rescued and pulled from the moat. Miraculously, she survived and was fined for trespassing.
While we will never know what possessed Mandy K to throw caution and sanity to the wind by antagonizing the Arctic’s ultimate badasses, we do have to give the polar bears credit for teaching her a lesson that she will never forget.
4. Smaller Litters
The apex predators of the Arctic are slowly dwindling in population size, thanks to smaller litters. Female polar bears need lots of ice to rear their young, and since the polar ice is melting at an alarming speed, baby polar bears just don’t have anywhere to begin the fragile first few weeks of their lives. Less polar ice also means less of a habitat for the bears, which cuts them off from a lot of their food supply and leads to leaner- and sometimes emaciated- animals.
Unhealthy bears have fewer healthy cubs because their bodies simply can’t sustain them throughout pregnancy. In the past, polar bears had an average of two cubs per litter, but now they’re lucky to eke out one healthy cub per litter.
Shrinking litters could very well be an extinction-level event for the polar bear population.
6: Lyon Inlet Attack
For three unlucky men, a broken-down boat spelled terror and disaster in an attack known as the Lyon Inlet attack that killed one of them and traumatized the other two for life.
On August 23, 2018, a hunting party was having some mechanical trouble, so the trio decided to stop for an impromptu tea party on a deserted slice of coast.
Unfortunately for them, a polar bear and her cub decided that humans should be on the menu and launched an attack, killing 33-year old Darryl Kaunak and scaring the living bejesus out of his two companions. Fortunately, one of the other stunned hunters shot the bear and her young cub before they could do more damage, but it was far too late for Kaunak.
5. Forced Inland
Shrinking habitats are one of the most insidious consequences of climate change, and one that is affecting the proud polar bear astronomically. Polar bears live on sea ice, and with their habitats literally melting into the frigid waters of the oceans, they need to adapt to survive.
The result is usually an epic throwdown between the bears and northern peoples. No longer can polar bears live out their lives at the top or bottom of the world; instead, they could be coming to a neighborhood near you! In 2019, 60 polar bears descended upon the town of Ryrkaypiy, Russia, near the top of the country on the Chukchi Sea.
Attracted by the walrus carcasses that lined the town’s beaches, the polar bears terrorized the 500 residents of the Russian fishing village. The town had to employ polar bear alert teams to safely get kids to school and keep people out of the animal’s way.
With the way things are going, Ryrkaypiv might be one of the first towns to be overrun by these polar predators, but it won’t be the last!
6. Sentry Island Attack
The 2018 Sentry Island Attack is a heartbreaking example of a father’s love for his children in the face of terror.
When a polar bear threatened 31-year-old Aaron Gibbons and his small children, Gibbons rose to the challenge, protecting his young from the bloodthirsty polar bear and losing his life in the process. The attack happened in Nunavut, where Gibbons and his children were out getting some fresh air and enjoying the wild shores of the Hudson Bay.
Gibbons and his kin were unarmed, making them easy prey for a predatory bear, who began stalking one of Gibbons’ little ones. The heroic dad quickly got between the children and the bear, giving the kids enough time to escape to their waiting boat.
Unfortunately, Gibbons was unable to escape the wrath of the bear, and he perished, giving his children a chance to live. Although there are bear sightings in Nunavut, the creatures tend to be very cautious around humans, making this polar catastrophe a fluke and a tragic freak accident.
7. Toxic Food
Toxic food is one of the gravest threats these massive mammals are up against. The toxins that we dump into our oceans make their way all over the world, and this includes the most remote reaches of the poles, where it infects sea life and the animals that prey upon those creatures.
It’s a vicious cycle called persistent organic pollutants, or POP for short; the slurry of nasty toxins in the Arctic food chain is comprised of at least 19 chemicals, and that’s on the conservative side.
As a result of all of this contaminated food, polar bears experience a host of physical problems, like vitamin shortages and trouble fighting off illness.
It also stifles reproduction, and the cubs that these bears do have get a hefty dose of chemicals right off the bat in the mother polar bear’s breast milk.
Chances of survival are bleak. Chances of healthy thriving? Nearly non-existent.
2: Svalbard Archipelago Attack
Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago attack was a deadly encounter between Johan Jacobus Kootte and an aggressive polar bear.
When the 38-year-old Kootte went camping on the remote island chain, it probably didn’t occur to him that he might never come home again. Tragically, the man was ambushed and mauled right in his own tent.
Kootte was camping at a popular wilderness campsite, and there were at least 7 other people there at the time that he was killed, but none of them were injured. The Svalbard Archipelago scrapes up against the top of the world and is known for being “polar bear country,” but attacks are not all that common.
Generally, the bears like to keep their distance, and the humans are more than happy to oblige them. What happened to Kootte was an anomaly and a grim reminder of the power of nature.
1. Arctic Drilling
The ice and permafrost in the Arctic is home to some of the world’s most coveted oil, and there are plenty of people who are just itching to dig into those gushers.
Unfortunately, arctic drilling damages the local ecosystems and causes significant problems for polar bears who call the coldest regions of our planet home. As we exhaust our oil supplies further south, many people see arctic drilling as a natural solution to a global problem, but there are some hangups. Arctic drilling is dangerous, not only for people but for the planet.
The Exxon Valdez oil spill was one of the worst environmental catastrophes in recorded history. Polar bears and oil don’t mix, as it tends to damage their fur, causing them to lose insulation quickly. Polar bears can also eat the oil, causing them to get sick or even die.