Incredible images of 35,000 walrus “resting” on the Alaskan shore are both beautiful and concerning, as scientists try to explain the reason for their decision to rest there.
The photos, which were taken during the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual aerial survey of Arctic marine mammals, show approximately 35,000 walrus clumped together on the shore in Point Lay, Alaska, to rest. Reports note that the walrus usually rest on Arctic ice, but because there isn’t any ice in the ocean, they were forced to come ashore.
Now, experts are warning that this phenomenon is directly related to the loss of sea ice in the Arctic.
“We are witnessing a slow-motion catastrophe in the Arctic,” said Lou Leonard, vice president for climate change at the World Wildlife Fund, in a statement. “As this ice dwindles, the Arctic will experience some of the most dramatic changes our generation has ever witnessed. This loss will impact the annual migration of wildlife through the region, threaten the long-term health of walrus and polar bear populations, and change the lives of those who rely on the Arctic ecosystem for their way of life.”
Margaret Williams, managing director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Arctic program, also noted that the climate change is directly impacting the distribution of marine life in region.
“The massive concentration of walruses onshore -- when they should be scattered broadly in ice-covered waters -- is just one example of the impacts of climate change on the distribution of marine species in the Arctic,” said Williams in a statement.
A recent report says that the Arctic sea ice had reached its lowest point of the year on September 17, which to date is the sixth-lowest amount of sea ice in the Arctic currently on record.