Walrus reflect changes in the Arctic’s climate

Associated Press and ctvnews.ca report, 28th August 2015: ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Pacific walrus have come ashore on the north-west coast of Alaska in what has become an annual sign of the effects of climate change.

This May, 2015 photo provided by explore.org, shows walruses on a beach, recorded by a robotic camera on Round Island, Alaska. (explore.org via AP)

This May, 2015 photo provided by explore.org, shows walruses on a beach, recorded by a robotic camera on Round Island, Alaska. (explore.org via AP)

“There appears to be several thousand animals up there,” said Andrea Medeiros, spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage.

Walrus have been coming to shore on the U.S. side of the Chukchi Sea in large numbers for about eight years. They also come to shore on the Russian side. Researchers say it’s likely a result of less sea ice brought on by climate warming.

Walrus dive to feed on clams, sea snails and other food on the ocean bottom but cannot swim indefinitely.

Many male walrus never leave the Bering Sea but females, especially mothers with pups, ride the edge of the sea ice as it moves north in summer through the Bering Strait and into the Arctic Ocean. They use sea ice as a platform from which to dive for food while pups rest on the ice.

In recent years, sea ice has receded north beyond shallow continental shelf waters and over water that exceeds 2 miles deep, beyond the diving range of an adult walrus.

Walrus in large numbers were first spotted on the U.S. side of the Chukchi Sea in 2007. They returned in 2009, and in 2011, scientists estimated 30,000 walruses along 1 kilometre of beach near Point Lay.

Last year, an estimated 35,000 walrus were photographed 5 miles north of Point Lay.

With this year’s low summer sea ice, it’s not surprising to see walrus on shore looking for a place to rest, Margaret Williams of the World Wildlife Fund in Anchorage said in a statement. The sharp decline of Arctic sea ice over the last decade is leading to major changes for wildlife and communities.

“Such extreme events are a stark reminder of the urgent need to ratchet down the emissions that are warming our planet,” Williams said.

Source: Associate News and ctvnews.ca, 28th August 2015. For the full story, see www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/thousands-of-walrus-leave-sea-ice-to-come-ashore-in-alaska-1.2537295


Please do share this

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • email hidden; JavaScript is required
  • RSS