The AP recently reported on tens of thousands of walruses
that have been forced ashore in northwest Alaska because their usual habitat, sea ice, has melted.
This footage from the USGS, via National Geographic, shows an astonishing aerial perspective of the walruses, crowded together on the beach. The situation is especially dangerous because walruses are easily spooked, and the younger ones can be trampled to death in a resulting stampede. Because of this, the area has been declared as a no-fly zone.
According to National Geographic, this is the first time this many walruses have taken to the beach in this particular area, though similar incidents have occurred in other parts of Alaska and Russia in years past.
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.”
The flight of the walrus, first reported by the Alaska Dispatch, has reinforced warnings from scientists that the lumbering animal may be headed for extinction because of climate change.
read whola article Guardian.co.uk