Here we go again. The Associated Press and the World Wildlife Fund are hyping gatherings of walrus (called “haulouts”) in Alaska. You can read a story (35,000 walrus come ashore in northwest Alaska) here. They are, of course, blaming these “haulouts” and trampling of some baby walrus on thinning ice and global warming as if the phenomenon were something new. But, haulouts have been known since a 1604 expedition to the Kola Peninsula according to the Society for Marine Mammalogy (Source).
According to zoologist Dr. Susan J. Crockford (see article here):
Large haulouts of walruses — such as the one making news at Point Lay, Alaska on the Chukchi Sea (and which happened before back in 2009) — are not a new phenomenon for this region over the last 45 years and thus cannot be due to low sea ice levels. Nor are deaths by stampede within these herds (composed primarily of females and their young) unusual, as a brief search of the literature reveals.
Crockford goes on to provide documentation of similar events in 1972 and 1978 and also notes that the walrus population has increased considerably since the 1960s (due to hunting restrictions) and that “these very recent incidents of large walrus herds and associated mortality events (2009, 2011 and 2014) have not coincided with the lowest levels of summer sea ice in the area, which occurred in 2007 and 2012.”
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service notes:
The Pacific walrus mainly inhabits the shallow continental shelf waters of the Bering and Chukchi seas. The distribution of Pacific walruses varies markedly with the seasons. Virtually the entire population occupies the pack ice in the Bering Sea in the winter months. Through the winter they generally congregate in two areas, one immediately southwest of St. Lawrence Island and the other in outer Bristol Bay. As the Bering Sea pack ice begins to loosen in April, walruses begin to move northward and their distribution becomes less clumped. By late April the distribution extends from Bristol Bay northward to the Bering Strait. During the summer months, as the pack ice continues to recede northward, most of the population migrates into the Chukchi Sea. The largest concentrations are found near the coasts, between 70 degrees North and Pt. Barrow in the east and between Bering Strait and Wrangel Island in the west. Concentrations, mainly of males, are also found on and near terrestrial haulouts in the Bering Sea in Bristol Bay and the northern Gulf of Anadyr throughout the summer. In October the pack ice develops rapidly in the Chukchi Sea, and large herds begin to move southward. Many come ashore on haulouts in the Bering Strait region. Depending on ice conditions, those haulout sites continue to be occupied through November and into December, but with the continuing development of ice, most of them move south of St. Lawrence Island and the Chukchi Peninsula by early to mid-December.
The Alaska Fish & Game department also says that concentrations of walrus on beaches is not unusual. “Best known among the Walrus Islands is Round Island, where each summer large numbers of male walruses haul out on exposed, rocky beaches.” “Walrus return to these haulouts every spring as the ice pack recedes northward, remaining hauled out on the beach for several days between each feeding foray. Up to 14,000 walrus have been counted on Round Island in a single day. However, the number of walrus using the island fluctuates significantly from year to year.”
The climate alarmists seem to be recycling the same story, over and over, attempting to scare us.