Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Walruses of the Shrinking Chukchi Sea Ice Forced to Come Ashore

New images captured by NOAA aerial surveys of the Alaska coast on September 27 show an estimated 35,000 walruses ashore near Point Lay

Pacific walruses have long relied on floating sea ice in the Arctic. They use it as a resting place between dives as they forage for shrimp, worms, and mollusks on the ocean floor. Female walruses also give birth on these ice platforms and raise their pups there.
But thanks to global warming, all that Arctic sea ice is dwindling. And so, in recent summers, many walruses have been seeking refuge on the northern shores of Alaska and Russia instead.
This September, scientists observed one of the biggest land haul-outs in recent memory in northern Alaska — with an estimated 35,000 walruses crowding the shore of a remote barrier island near Pt. Lay. Surveyors from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration photographed the event on September 13 during their annual aerial survey of Arctic marine mammals:

This seems to be an increasingly common occurrence, and the US Geological Survey has blamed it on climate change.
Major walrus haul-outs have now been observed in Alaska in six of the past eight years — at a time when Arctic sea ice has been shrinking. In 2010, some 20,000 walruses came ashore near Pt. Lay. In 2011, nearly 30,000 came ashore.  In 2013, another 10,000 came ashore.
Several thousand walruses were killed in stampedes last year after the disappearance of the ice caused them to crowd onto the shoreline in extraordinary numbers, deaths some scientists see as another alarming consequence of global warming.
The deaths took place during the late summer and fall on the Russian side of the Bering Strait, which separates Alaska from Russia.
"It was a pretty sobering year — tough on walruses," said Joel Garlach-Miller, a walrus expert for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Unlike seals, walruses cannot swim indefinitely. The big, tusked mammals typically clamber onto the sea ice to rest, or haul themselves onto land for just a few weeks at a time. But when the ice disappeared in the Chukchi Sea last year because of warm summer weather, ocean currents and persistent eastern winds, walruses came ashore earlier and stayed longer, congregating in extremely high numbers, with herds as big as 40,000 at Point Shmidt.
Walruses are vulnerable to stampedes when they gather in such large numbers. The appearance of a polar bear, a hunter or a low-flying airplane can send them rushing to the water, crushing  older adults and most of their young pups.
The sad story of the Arctic animals decline continues. Most people are not aware of it and I wonder how much they would care if they knew.



  1. Knight aunt Jeannie,
    This post will be the toic at our next meeting , we will checkout a video from the library , Jinny called the library to see if they had one , this will let them know everything is at risk large or small..
    Our last meeting , a lady said global warming is the biggest scam in history why are you harping on this every week .
    Aunt Jeannie mama was at the podium conducting the meeting , Sha walked over , said excuse me mama this will only take a minute , asked the lady her name , lady said Jones ,
    Sha said well Mrs. Jones , for those too stupid to understand it's implications and too blind to the facts it can seem like a scam.
    Now I have a question for you , why are you here each week ? We know you are not interested in the environment , it seems like you come for the goodies . Daddy always stands in the doorway listening , he says he learns something each time , daddy daddy said now little woman you said that very well .
    We are only trying to get the word out , we do not force people to come .
    Crusader Jenny , Nanook & Knight Mika

  2. Crusader
    Sha said exactly what I was thinking. If the lady thinks it's such a scam, why does she come every week? Even though she says she doesn't believe, she is learning a little something every week. Before you know it, she will become a convert and supporter. What about all the pictures and videos? Doesn't she believe her own eyes?? Boy, Mr Pumpkin Head sure has a lot to answer for. He is spreading his ignorance and stupidity like a disease across the country.
    Nanook and his Knights will push back the ignorance with their swords of truth. Mika Has 2 swords and knows how to use them.
    Love Aunt Jeannie

  3. May 17 ,2018
    This month-----374