Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a mesmerising aerial photo showing an estimated 35,000 walruses gathered in one spot. The walruses came together in record numbers off Alaska’s northwest coast because they couldn’t find enough sea ice to rest on, a grave sign of a warming planet.
There was a lot of commotion over the walrus cluster when the pictures first came out — for a brief time, flights were canceled over the Point Lay shore where the walruses were grouped to avoid a panic-triggered walrus stampede — but there have been few updates about the marine mammals’ status since then.
According to a spokesperson for the World Wildlife Fund, the animals have probably dispersed by now, after eating up all the food in that area.
Here’s what a spokesperson for the World Wildlife Fund had to say over email:
According to our expert, there haven’t been any flights over Point Lay since the Sept. 27 report, so there isn’t an update on the count of walruses. Most likely, the 35,000 walrus are no longer there. Haul outs don’t usually last very long and with 35,000 walrus there won’t be enough food for them to stay. Such a large number of walruses probably cannot stay in the same place for very long because they will have to travel longer and longer distances to find food. Experience from previous years, has shown that around this time, walruses at Point Lay typically start filtering over to the Russian haul outs.
Here’s what’s coming, Russia:
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