The extensive loss of arctic sea ice is forcing thousands of walruses to go ashore off an Alaskan island. Walruses depended on the sea ice for hunting. This is due to climate changes and the survival of walruses is currently threatened. Climate change consequences include warmer winters and the melting of sea ice in the Arctic Circle. It seems that global warming is playing a key role in these unfortunate events in the Arctic.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the first sighting and footage of animals forced to come ashore was recorder by a photographer on August 23rd and confirmed by the villagers of Point Lay. The large mammals are at risk of stampede due to the limited space on the island. Also, the food sources on the island are scarce.
President Obama reported to travel to Alaska in order to draw attention on the effects of global warming in Alaska. The timeframe of the president’s visit over there is set in between August 31st to September 3rd. The president intends to put an emphasis on his climate change policies during a summit held in Paris in approximately three months.
A spokesperson for the USGS reported that walruses have hauled out in Alaska, although their numbers haven’t been accurately pinpointed. Moreover, it seems walruses have had to bring themselves to shore because of melting sea ice the seventh time since 2007.
Several walruses have been tagged by the USGS Government radio tracking and they have been observed making their way to shore due to severe arctic sea ice loss.
The USGS also said that this haul out occurred earlier than expected, as walruses usually traversed to shore in the Arctic area around September 15th in previous years. The scientific organization also reported that the Chukchi Sea experienced ice melting entirely this year. They explained that walrus females and their young would forage in areas of the Chukchi Sea including US and Russian waters in the summertime. During their search for provisions, they rest on ice platforms. But as of recently they were forced to haul out on shore in searching for food and a place to rest.
Several scientists fear that in the next three decades the Arctic region could become ice-free in summer months, which would affect the walruses’ existence even further.
Photo Credits marinebio.net