Sunday, 6 September 2015

Melting sea-ice driving walruses on land

During the late summer and early autumn, the Pacific walruses of the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska and of Russia’s Chukotka prefer to rest on sea ice over the shallow waters of the continental shelf. In those areas they can readily access food on the seabed. However, in most years since 2007 when Arctic sea ice extent plummeted to a record low, walruses have been forced ashore because there has been no sea ice over their preferred shallow feeding areas. 

Photos taken in Ryrkaypiy in Chukotka, Russia show an estimated 5,000 walruses hauled out, while across the strait in the United States, thousands more are hauled out near the village of Point Lay, Alaska. Villagers in both places are working to protect resting walrus herds from curious onlookers, as walruses hauled out in such large numbers on beaches are prone to being stampeded, killing smaller animals in the crush.

“This past July was the second warmest on record for Alaska,” said Pete Ewins, WWF Arctic species specialist. “So it’s not surprising that we’re seeing these animals on the beaches quite early. While haulouts can be potentially dangerous to the animals gathered on shore, we’re concerned about what events such as these mean for the health of the entire Arctic marine system.”


No comments:

Post a comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

ShareThis