Forget the polar bear. Walruses may soon become the new global warming poster child.
Researchers attached 40 satellite radio-tags on walruses in mid-July in the northern Chukchi Sea. This autumn when walruses are expected to come to rest on shore in the absence of sea ice, USGS and Russian colleagues plan to deploy additional tags on walruses on both U.S. and Russian shores of the Chukchi Sea. Tracking data from this study are intended to help describe walrus movements, foraging areas, and sea ice habitats in the Chukchi Sea and the Chukchi Sea oil lease sale planning area and to provide insights on walrus foraging and movements.
While it all sounds innocent enough, today’s Climatewire explains the real (climate scare) motivation:
Retreating sea ice is driving walruses ashore in Alaska, the U.S. Geological Survey said yesterday.
In normal summers, the marine mammals rest on ice floes in between dives to the ocean floor to feed on clams, worms and snails.
But this year, the sea ice in the eastern Chukchi Sea has retreated beyond the edge of the continental shelf into waters too deep for walruses to forage. The animals have started to seek shelter on land, said USGS biologist Chad Jay…
“The ice is very widely dispersed, and there is little of it left over the continental shelf,” he said. “Based on our tracking data, the walruses appear to be spreading out and spending quite a bit of time looking for sea ice.”
And here’s the problem:
Once on land, the intensely social but easily spooked animals cluster in dense packs. That raises the risk of stampedes, like the event researchers believe killed 131 walruses, including many young animals, on the shores of Icy Cape, Alaska, in the summer of 2009.
So as Polar bear-gate discredits another iconic symbol of global warming hysteria, the alarmists are prepping a substitute species:
In February, the Fish and Wildlife Service ruled that listing the Pacific walrus — the species found in Arctic waters — as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act was “warranted but precluded,” in part because other species in line for protection were at greater risk.
Imagine having to wait in line to be annointed as “endangered.”
You (and Internet-savvy walruses wishing to avoid the crush) can track the situation here.