Melting Ice

In this aerial photo taken on Sept. 23, 2014 and released by NOAA, some 1500 walrus are gather on the northwest coast of Alaska. Pacific walrus looking for places to rest in the absence of sea ice are coming to shore in record numbers, according to NOAA. Photo: Corey Accardo, AP / NOAA
The 35,000 brown dots in this picture are walruses, gathered on shore in Alaska.  These amazing pinnipeds are the last in their family and are now threatened by the melting ice caused by climate change.  Females usually raise their pups in small groups on sea ice, which allows the pups to stay dry and gives the mothers a chance to rest from swimming.  During this time they feed on shellfish from the ocean floor.  Because of climate change, the northern extent of the ice has been receding. The entire Chukchi Sea is now ice free; the only remaining ice is in the two mile deep Arctic Ocean.  The walruses cannot dive that deep to find food and are therefore forced to come on land.  They don’t feel safe on land so they congregate in groups, despite the fact that they are usually dispersed on the ice.  This behavior can lead to stampedes when the seals are startled, killing up to 10% of the herd.  Some climate change deniers have cited the past reports of large groups of walruses as evidence that this behavior is normal, but that argument ignores the fact that those gatherings were mostly male walruses and much smaller, unlike the tens of thousands of female and pup gatherings seen in recent years.  Do you know someone who denies climate change?  We challenge you to tell the walrus story to two of your friends and tell them to pass it on.  Together we can make a difference in how people think.

2 thoughts on “Melting Ice

  1. What a great photo and post! I will definitely share the walrus story with my friends.


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