Sea Ice Loss Forces 35,000 Walrus Ashore in Alaska
Several news outlets reported last week on the herd of 35,000 walrus that gathered on a beach in northwestern Alaska, due to the loss of summer ice of the Chukchi Sea.
“Typically, Pacific walrus, which don’t have the stamina to swim indefinitely and depend on sea ice for places to rest periodically, follow sea ice in the Bering Sea as it recedes north in the summer, ending up in the Chukchi Sea,” Valentine writes. “This year—and every year since 2007 besides 2008, when there was just enough sea ice left for the walrus to make use of—all the summer sea ice disappeared, causing a record 35,000 walrus to convene on an Alaska beach.”
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Margaret Williams, Managing Director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Arctic Program, said the “massive concentration of walruses onshore” was “just one example of the impacts of climate change on the distribution of marine species in the Arctic.”