Wildlife agency says walruses are on their own

The US Fish and Wildlife service has declined a proposal to install floating offshore platforms for Pacific walruses that have been seen returning to the coast due to a lack of floating sea ice.

Walrus swimming, Alaska, 2010.

Walrus swimming, Alaska, 2010. Image by NOAA Photo Library / CC BY 2.0

The proposal called for the installation of resting platforms in a feeding territory 100 miles off the coast of Alaska. Pacific walruses typically feed on clams and other food on the ocean floor, and then return to sea ice to rest. On 2 September nearly 35,000 walruses were spotted on the coast of Point Lay in Northwestern Alaska in what has become an annual phenomenon tied to global warming. Environmental groups say the need to return to the coast is taxing on the animals, but the Wildlife service says there is not enough data to warrant the installation. The agency will conduct a study this year to see what effect the vanishing sea ice is having on the animals. Read more: nytimes.com

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