Warming Arctic strands walrus calves

Apr 16, 2006

Lone walrus calves facing starvation after separation from their mothers appear to be more common in the Arctic, scientists say.

In a report in the journal Aquatic Mammals, the scientists say they believe the calves were victims of thinning sea ice because of rising temperatures in the Arctic. One Coast Guard vessel observed nine lone calves during a two-month cruise north of Alaska in 2004.

Carin Ashjian, a biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said water flowing from the Bering Sea to the shallower continental shelf of the Chukchi Sea off northern Alaska was 6 degrees F warmer than it had been in 2002. She believes the result was thinner sea ice close to shore, with young walrus stranded or dumped into the water when pieces broke off.

"We were on a station for 24 hours, and the calves would be swimming around us crying," Ashjian told The Washington Post "We couldn't rescue them."

Young walrus spend the first two years of life with their mothers, remaining on an ice shelf while the adults dive for crabs and clams.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: NASA Webb's heart survives deep freeze test

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

NASA Webb's heart survives deep freeze test

2 hours ago

After 116 days of being subjected to extremely frigid temperatures like that in space, the heart of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) and its sensitive instruments, ...

Big black holes can block new stars

9 hours ago

Massive black holes spewing out radio-frequency-emitting particles at near-light speed can block formation of new stars in aging galaxies, a study has found.

MAVEN studies passing comet and its effects

9 hours ago

NASA's newest orbiter at Mars, MAVEN, took precautions to avoid harm from a dust-spewing comet that flew near Mars today and is studying the flyby's effects on the Red Planet's atmosphere.

User comments : 0