Scientists fear declining Arctic sea ice may have caused an unprecedented mass migration to dry land
Walrus high on the barrier beaches near Pointt Lay, Alaska, 2010. Photograph: USGS
Scientists in the Arctic are reporting a rare mass migration of thousands of walrus from the ice floes to dry land along Alaska‘s coast.
Researchers from the US Geological Survey (USGS), who have been tracking walrus movements using satellite radio tags, say 10,000 to 20,000 of the animals, mainly mothers and calves, are now congregating in tightly packed herds on the Alaskan side of the Chukchi Sea, in the first such exodus of its kind.
“It’s something that we have never seen before in this area,” said Geoff York, of the WWF’s global Arctic programme. “As the ice decreases, the walrus are abandoning it earlier and earlier. They are having to swim ashore, or to linger on less suitable drift ice for long periods of time.”