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Researchers says walrus behavior changing

Posted: November 15, 2012 - 4:35pm

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The absence of vast swaths of summer sea ice is changing the behavior of Pacific walrus, federal scientists said Wednesday, but added that more research will be needed to say what the final effects might be.

“There is a definite concern for the population,” said Chad Jay, a U.S. Geological Survey research ecologist who studies patterns of walrus distribution.

Since 2008, Jay, USGS researcher Anthony Fischbach and colleagues in Russia have used crossbows to attach temporary radio collars to walrus so their movements can be tracked.

In a paper published last month, they concluded that walrus in late summer will increase their use of coastal resting areas, called haul-outs, and feed in nearshore foraging areas because sea ice will continue to diminish. The consequences for the population, they said, was not known.

A decade ago, the future of walrus was hardly a consideration. Their habitat in in a hostile locale off a remote state provided natural protections.

Warming has opened up the Arctic for ecotourism, petroleum development and possibly cargo transport and commercial fishing. Like polar bears, walrus have seen their primary habitat melting beneath their feet or flippers.

Walruses cannot swim indefinitely. They use ice, rocks or beaches as resting platforms.

Walrus females give birth in the Bering Sea, and as temperatures warm each summer, live on the sea ice edge as it moves north through the Bering Strait and into the Chukchi Sea. The ice provides a sanctuary for nursing walrus calves and an ever-changing diving platform for females that hunt along the ocean floor for clams, snails and marine worms. Biologists compare the ice edge to a conveyor belt that carries walrus north and south as ice melts and re-forms with the seasons.

A wakeup call for U.S. scientists came in 2007, when several thousand walrus appeared on Alaska’s northwest coast in late summer. Ice had receded beyond the shallow continental shelf to the Arctic Basin, where the ocean floor is 10,000 feet down and too deep to reach by walrus. Thousands more hauled out on the Russian side.

Remnant ice kept walrus offshore in 2008, but they returned to shore in late summer 2009, with tragic consequences: more than 130 mostly young walruses were crushed at Icy Cape in a stampede that could have been caused by a polar bear, human hunters or an airplane.

In 2010, upward of 20,000 walrus were counted near Point Lay, an Eskimo village 300 miles southwest of Barrow. In 2011, 5.000 walruses were spotted north of Point Lay and 3,000 more a short distance away.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year added walrus to the “warranted but precluded” list, deciding that the animals need additional protections but could not be listed because other species were a higher priority. A legal settlement requires a decision by 2017.

Researchers, meanwhile, will continue investigating whether walrus gathered on the coast will deplete nearshore food resources, which are typically less bountiful for walrus than offshore areas, or if a toll will be taken on the health of females and calves that have to forage farther for food.

Despite record low ice this year, remnant ice floating off Alaska’s northwest allowed walrus to stay offshore. As the climate continues to warm, Jay said, walrus are likely to be back on shore in late summer.

“We expect to see this behavior continue and that period of time when walrus are using coastal haul-outs and are forced to forage in these less-productive waters — we expect that period to continue into the future as we experience more climate warming,” he said.

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akmscott 11/25/12 - 06:48 am
Another lead into the

Another lead into the fairytale world of climate change or as some know it"How to buy and sell carbon shares and make millions of dollars".

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 11/25/12 - 10:30 am
Vast absences' do change things

Take America for instance, the Vast Absence of GOD has changed OUR Behavior and from what i see it is effecting all the world.
As for climate change, there is no such thing apart from what God decides to do. In fact the earths climate has gotten cooler since 1996 and as Akmscott said it best it's all about money and more control of fellow humans globally.
Old weather Marmot Al Goremister as many know the Truth, they just refuse to accept it as it would disbunk their manmade theory which many real scientists have already done.
As for man made carbons effecting the climate we will never put out as much carbon as The volcanic explosion of Pompay, not to mention all the rest of the volcanoes that are still going off world wide.
Yes nature is changing every where, but it's being done under Gods directions and total control, not mans and what we all see are WARNING SIGNS to cause mankind to see the coming End of the Age, and beginning of a New Age.
12-21-12 is nearer now than it was before, will this actually be the beginning of the End of the Age as 89+ Ancient Societies predicted and Jesus also warned was coming?
Just maybe the world news is finally catching up with the words of the Bible, just maybe.
No Salmon, walrus's misbehaving and much more God controled Nature events and mankind still wants to think they are in control, simply amazing as well as sad this inflated ego of control freaks. We have not even really started seeing heat waves or out of control weather yet, but hang on it's coming very soon and man will not escape it nor change or hold it back no matter what we try to BS ourselves into believeing or thinking that we have or can control it or anything else when God has set his mind in a certain direction for all Creation to go in, it will be done just as his word says it will. Read the instruction manual so you'll know whats coming and know how to be ready to survive the global heat wave that says 1/3 of everything will be destroyed by heat/fire this time at the End of this Age.

Sam Von Pufendorf
Sam Von Pufendorf 11/26/12 - 06:20 am
Cooling compared to the over all trend

The global surface temperature has risen nearly a degree and a half since the start of the 20th century. Climate change happens and life changes with it. Are we the cause? Possibly. Is the climate actually changing? Definitely. Is there anything we can do to change it? Probably not. Does that mean we should burn limited resources as if they're unlimited? Should we senselessly burn future generations energy supply? Think of how much more energy you use compared to the previous generation. How many more people are now using fossil fuels that weren't using them in 1970.
I know your argument WoW... Oil is an endless resource and it is a conspiracy by the oil companies and the scientific world to say and promote otherwise in order to control the population. We don't need to hear it again. That is your opinion and has been repeated enough. In fact ... I just saved you the time!
As for your notion that God controls all ... He may have created all ... he may know the day of an individuals end ... he may know the end of the world ... but he did not put us here as mindless creatures. He gave us a garden and is allowing us to decide how to till it.
Pompay was an immediate, but reoccurring event as was Tambora and a host of other volcano's that erupted in the 16th, 17th, and 18th century causing the mini ice age. They are constantly emitting carbon dioxide and human caused emissions are consistent and and ever increasing as well.
Long and short of it... Climate change is occurring. and over the long term it hasn't been getting cooler regardless of who or what is responsible.

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 11/26/12 - 10:05 am

Yes there is climate change happening as you said SVP, but also as you said and agree with me, it's probably not manmade causes that are in effect here.
I appreciate your sharing of my view on our unlimited continual renewable oil & gas as it saves me from doing so.
I agree whole heartedly that God did not put any of us here to abuse or misuse earth or our ability to discover why we are here. It's all availabe, the knowledge to understand our purpose on earth if people would only search out the truth.
Things are changing at warp speed now days and these changes show major global troubles in every area of life wheather it's man, animal, plant or climate, even the degree of earthquakes and floods are increasing and we seem to not be able to control these things even if we want to do so.
My opinion, as you well know, is that these are all warning Signs for the End of the age, dispensation of time we are now approaching which many say is this Dec.
It's not the End of the World, just a period of time which will birth a New Age or dispensation of time. Fire & distruction always produces new growth and we are about to see some major fire and distruction of all created things before that New growth can begin. Times are a changing and we are just beginning to see that they may be very hard times for everything, so hang on, the rides about to start in earnest and it looks like it's gonna be a rough ride for all.
I'm not worried as i read the final book and chapter of the instruction manual, it's those that refuse to read the ending so the know not whats coming or how the story ends and fail to prepare. Funny how we can't wait to get to the end of most every book to see what happens, yet, we refuse to do the very same with the Bible's last book/chapter which was written out of love for mankind, not as a means to instill fear, but as a means of preperation for whats coming at the End of the Age which will start that New Age.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and gave Thanks where Thanks were due and to whom Thanks belong.
This was the first Thanksgiving that i did not cook for a mass crowd as the wife and i were in seattle at the childrens hospital giving thanks for a new heart for our friends 4 month baby boy on Thanksgiving day. It was a sad, yet happy time of thanks and prayer as we knew that a baby had died to provide that new heart which produced both happy and sadness at once. What a wonderful hospital and the working together for the good of fellow humans no matter the race, color or creed of the children being treated for many illnesses. It was truly a blessing for us to be there and witness these actions ment for good and to see God at work in many areas and levels of almost every person there.
In the midst of ever changing times and global conditions which appear to be moving us all towards a not so good ending for all of nature/creation we see happening all around, this was a bright spot of hope and change to believe in for many that realize life is short and we actually have no control even with the major medical abilities we now have. People live and die every day and the question is, are they ready for what comes next?

Seafarer 12/01/12 - 02:38 pm
Adapt or Die

I think it's a good thing Walrus are changing their habits. It shows they have the ability to adapt before their species is gone forever.

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