Sea Ice Loss Forces 35,000 Walrus to Gather on Shoreline

On Saturday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic marine mammal aerial survey photographed this mass gathering of walrus in northwest Alaska.

An estimated 35,000 walrus could be seen huddled closely together, forced to come ashore due to a lack in summer sea ice. Since walrus aren’t capable of swimming non-stop, it is imperative that they have a place to rest.

NASA reported that the levels recorded this year are the sixth-lowest since 1978.

According to Andrea Medeiros, spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the animals were first detected on September 13 and have since been moving in large numbers on and off shore.

Margaret Williams, the managing director of the WWF’s Arctic program had this to say about the recent sighting:

It’s another remarkable sign of the dramatic environmental conditions changing as the result of sea ice loss. The walruses are telling us what the polar bears have told us and what many indigenous people have told us in the high Arctic, and that is that the Arctic environment is changing extremely rapidly and it is time for the rest of the world to take notice and also to take action to address the root causes of climate change.


Images: NOAA