Thousands of Walrus Begin Early Haul-Out in Alaska
by Wynne Parry
Prompted by receding Arctic sea ice, walruses have begun hauling out on the Alaskan shore by the thousands. In recent years, walrus migrations have happened on an unprecedented scale with the animals coming ashore in greater numbers, in new places, and at times not seen before. Last year, as many as 20,000 walruses hauled out on the Alaskan shoreline of the Chukchi Sea, near Point Lay, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
This year, the mass migration began three weeks earlier than last year, with a handful of walruses tagged by the United State Geological Survey heading to shore as early as Aug. 7. Then on Wednesday (Aug. 17), about 8,000 were spotted on or near a beach north of Point Lay, the Associated Press reported.
“These dangerously large walrus haul-outs in the Chukchi Sea are a direct result of extreme Arctic sea- ice melt caused by climate change,” said Geoff York, an Arctic wildlife biologist with the World Wildlife Fund. “Unless carbon pollution is dramatically reduced, walruses, polar bears and even people in the Arctic will face a much more perilous future than they do already.”…
(read more: Live Science)
(photo: Blaine Thorn (National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration