Walrus come ashore in Alaska as global warming decimates sea ice
For the Pacific walrus, global warming is undeniable.
An estimated 10,000 walrus have come ashore on Alaska’s northwest coast, the National Marine Fisheries Service reported, as the sea ice the animals normally rely on to rest continues to melt at alarming rates.
Since 2007, government scientists have tracked numerous large walrus “haulouts” in Alaska and this one began last week.
Walrus typically use ice in the Chukchi Sea upon which to rest, and feed on clams and other prey. Over the past decade, however, they have been forced to come ashore more frequently as global temperatures have continued to rise.
As of September 2012, sea ice reached its lowest square area since measurements began in 1979, Physics Today reported, and represented 55% less coverage than was measured in 1980.
According to the Fisheries Service, that’s very bad news for the walrus, whose shift in habitat “will expose all individuals, but especially calves, juveniles and females, to increased levels of stress from depletion of prey, increased energetic costs to obtain prey, trampling injuries and mortalities, and predation.”