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Thanks to a camera trap, a polar bear unwittingly makes a self-portrait in Svalbard. PHOTOGRAPH BY PAUL NICKLEN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Lack of sea ice is making it more difficult for polar bears to find food.

When photographer Paul Nicklen and filmmakers from conservation group Sea Legacy arrived on Baffin Island in late summer, they came across a heartbreaking sight: a starving polar bear on its deathbed.

Nicklen is no stranger to bears. From the time he was a child growing up in Canada’s far north the biologist turned wildlife photographer has seen over 3,000 bears in the wild. But the emaciated polar bear, featured in videos Nicklen published to social media on December 5, was one of the most gut-wrenching sights he’s ever seen.

“We stood there crying—filming with tears rolling down our cheeks,” he said.

Read the full article and watch the video here.

By Sarah Gibbens for The National Geographic.