Pacific walrus herd hauled out in Alaska during August was as large as last year’s

So, I guess they didn’t all die because of lack of sea ice in the Chukchi Sea. I said back on 28 August, just after the some unauthorized photos were publicized, that this haulout looked just as large as last year’s, if not larger (walruses are occasional prey of polar bears).

Walruses_USFWS photo_030515_March 2015

Now confirmed by an official US Fish and Wildlife Service estimate of 35,000 – not 36,000 mind you, or 34,000 – it was definitely 35,000. Odd, that. And surprisingly, they didn’t bother going out to count them until the day President Obama came to town. Would FWS have even bothered to get a count if there hadn’t been something newsworthy to tie it to?

Even more strange is the fact that this year, there was no accompanying hype. There were no links in any of the stories to FWS or USGS propaganda website pages, like there were last year (nor even a link to a press release). No mention of the FWS plan to have walruses declared ‘threatened with extinction because of global warming. And no mention of prosecution of the photographer who took the photos on 23 August, from the required distance, but without a permit. Note the permit number stamped on the official NOAA photo provided below (taken 2 September 2015), which few outlets carried, probably because it looks nothing like a photo of walruses on a beach:

walrus haul out NOAA Sept 2 2015

It appears that this year 35,000 walruses on a beach is a non-story. Go figure. Excerpts from the one, widely-circulated story below, from three days ago. See previous post for more walrus background, map, and video.

“Observers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Sept. 2 flew near Point Lay and photographed the animals, Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Andrea Medeiros said by email. That was the same day President Barack Obama flew above the Arctic Circle to Kotzebue to showcase how human-influenced climate change is influencing Alaska’s landscape.

The NOAA Fisheries flight, part of an aerial survey of Arctic marine mammals, carried a permit to photograph the animals.

Walrus grouped shoulder to shoulder in massive herds are subject to stampedes if they are startled by an airplane, hunter or polar bear. The airplane carrying the observers made a single pass from 3 miles offshore at an altitude of 2,000 feet to avoid startling the walrus, Medeiros said.” [my bold]

“Estimated 35,000 walrus come ashore in northwest Alaska” (10 September 2015), carried by MailOnline; Alaska Daily News

(Other versions of the same story, with different titles: here, here, and here).


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