(11AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)
“an unusual gathering on a barrier island in Alaska. ” They’d normally be out on the floating ice after foraging, but there is no ice this year near their feeding grounds. Arctic sea ice is at the 3rd lowest point in recorded history.
Walruses Swarm Beaches as Ice Melts
Biologists with the USGS say the situation can be very dangerous because walruses are easily startled, and can stampede. Some walruses, particularly calves and juveniles, can get crushed to death by larger walruses moving about.
As usual, the Brits have the better and more detailed write up:
Guardian UK 9/13/10
Scientists investigate massive walrus haul – out in Alaska
“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.”
Walrus are not the only animals facing depleted numbers or extinction because of climate change. The Arctic is warming at twice the rest of the world on average, and its seas are growing increasingly acidic because of increased concentrations of carbon dioxide. A new report today warned that 17 species – from tiny plankton to the weighty narwhal – were threatened by the disappearing sea ice and rising seas.
In 2007 and again last year “thousands of walruses hauled out along the coast of north-western Alaska and tens of thousands of walruses hauled out along the coast of northern Chukotka when ice disappeared,” the USGS report said. “These events led to the trampling and death of hundreds of walruses in Alaska and thousands in Russia,” the report said.
Alaska Dispatch asked on September 11, 2010, what’s causing the massive haulout at Point Lay ?
Walruses feed on clams, worms, and other sea creatures in shallow water between Russia and Alaska, and usually use ice pads to rest every day. Females cannot float at rest as long as males because they lack the ability to trap buoyancy air pockets in their throats.
In 2007 and 2009, large number of walruses parked themselves on Alaska beaches in clusters as large as 600 to 800 each. Last year near Icy Cape, a trampling event led to the deaths of more than 100 of the animals, most of whom were juveniles crushed as the group headed for water en masse, likely after getting spooked. By what remains unknown.
Steps are being taken to try to make sure that doesn’t happen with the group hauled out in Point Lay. Flight restrictions have been imposed, and the village is refusing to indulge out of town tourists who are shopping around for boat rides to get a closer look. Hunters have been asked to stay away from the main group, and people seem to be respecting that request, according to Ferreira.
USGS scientists traveled to Point Lay earlier this month to tag some of the walruses in an effort to track and study their movement. They’re particularly interested in how much more swimming the hauled out walruses, most of which are females, will have to do to find food and how that extra effort will affect the animals’ health. They’re also worried about how young walruses — which rely on a mother’s care for two years and which nurse for the first six to seven months of life — will fare.
Scientists are projecting that the walrus has a 40% chance of extinction by the end of the century if sea ice continues to melt in the Arctic.
Meanwhile, the Republican Tea Party, Alaskan Faux Libertarian Senate candidate, Joe Miller, who is receiving massive amounts of “independent expenditures” from the Tea Party Express Our Country Deserves Better PAC run by Sacramento based Russo Marsh & Rogers, http://herndon1.sdrdc.com/cgi-… has been revealed to have been taking taxpayer funded Federal cash in farm subsidies for land he owned in ….. Geary County, Kansas, while he was also receiving taxpayer funded Alaska Permanent Fund dividend checks at that Anchorage address.
Russo Marsh/MoveAmericaForward/TeaPartyExpress/OurCountryDeservesBetter PAC, was heavily involved in the 2008 CA- 04 race, swiftboating the Democrat Charlie Brown and promoting the offshore drilling advocate, climate change denier Tom McClintock (R, Exxon Chevron).
Alaska Dispatch 9/20/10 Senate Candidate Joe Miller admits taking farm subsidies
…. and a Freedom of Information Act request has now revealed it is the address to which the U.S. Department of Agriculture mailed 61 farm subsidy checks worth a total of $7,235 from 1991 through 1997.
The subsidies — ranging from $2 to $1,621 — were for sorghum and wheat deficiencies, an agriculture conservation program, disaster assistance, and production flexibility on wheat on sorghum, according to payment records from the Department of Agriculture.
“The growth of stimulus programs, the growth of basically government bailouts to industries that are failing, it’s not the American way,” – Joe Miller, Republican Senate Tea Party Candidate
Those walruses really ought to just hire a better lobbyist. Used Congressmen are standing by, waiting for their call, now that Eric Holder’s Department of Justice has given them the all- clear to resume their usual evergreening activities.
Drill, Baby, Kill. One hundred and sixty one people vs. 20,000 DFH walruses who didn’t even have a camping permit. They out to quit whining and buck up before somebody sics a drone on ’em.