Melting sea ice strands 35,000 walruses in Alaska

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

pacific walruses
Young male Pacific walruses on Cape Pierce in Alaska.

Shrinking sea ice has forced 35,000 Pacific walruses to crowd together in Alaska, as global warming melts their natural habitats.

See, these tusk-bearing creatures love to “haul out” – meaning they haul their body onto the ice to get nice and toasty from the Sun. However, since the Arctic ice is getting too hot, it’s fading away and leaving less places for the poor dears to soak up sunny rays.

According to the United Nations, human pollution has resulted in the Earth having less of a protective atmosphere – the outer layer way up in the sky that keeps ultraviolet sunlight from burning up the planet.

With the Arctic sea ice hitting historical lows, leading veterinarian Pam Tuomi of the Alaska SeaLife Center says that the overcrowded walruses are “another one of the symptoms of the changes that are occurring in the Arctic Ocean.”

Sadly, the Pacific walrus is losing its population numbers too, and is now listed as a “threatened” species by the USA’s Endangered Species Act. Soon, they may be upgraded to “endangered,” meaning they’re in danger of going extinct!

Margaret Williams, managing director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Arctic Program, explains, “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.” Scientists are studying the situation carefully and hope to prevent this beautiful animal from fading away into the history books.

Featured image courtesy of USFWS.