I had an opportunity last night to watch the original Netflix ‘Frozen Worlds’ walrus episode and have some addition thoughts.
One big eye-opener was the final shot of the walrus sequence: a polar bear approaching from the water to feed on the carcasses below the cliff at Cape Kozhevnikov. This is additional proof that polar bears were in the area while the crew were filming. Yet the narrative in the film was silent on the risk to walruses on the cliff from polar bears and not a word was spoken of the hundreds of walruses that had fallen off that very cliff just days before after being spooked by approaching bears.
Oddly, I have also discovered that the Russian scientific advisor to the film, Anatoli Kochnev, wrote a scientific report in 2002 (translated into English) on walrus deaths at two regularly used beach haulouts on Wrangel Island from 1989-1996, when walrus population numbers were much lower than today and summer sea ice extent was higher (Kochnev 2002). He concluded that stampedes initiated by polar bears were responsible for most of the walruses found trampled to death.
This means Kochnev knew that polar bears nearby were a huge risk factor for walrus stampedes over the cliff but went along with the official ‘Our Planet’ narrative that no polar bears were involved and only lack of sea ice and poor eyesight were to blame for the carnage presented in the Netflix film.
Posted in Advocacy, Sea ice habitat, walrus
Tagged Attenborough, climate change, haulouts, Kochnev, Netflix, Our Planet, polar bear, sea ice, stampedes, trampling, walrus, Wrangel Island, WWF
Produced by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, there is now a short video summary of my recently-released GWPF briefing paper, which I wrote and narrated.
Watch it below:
Available also at GWPF TV: “The Walrus Fuss – Walrus haulouts are nothing new.”
The briefing paper is here.
Posted in Life History, Sea ice habitat, Summary, walrus
Tagged Alaska, briefing paper, climate change, Dr Susan Crockford, global warming, Global Warming Policy Foundation, GWPF, haulouts, Point Lay, sea ice decline, stampedes, USGS, video, walrus, walrus mortality, WWF
I’ve written a briefing paper for the GWPF refuting claims that huge herds of Pacific walruses hauled out on land are a sign of global warming.
Here’s the GWPF press release:
London, 20 October: A briefing paper published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation refutes claims that Arctic walruses are in distress and danger due to global warming.
The paper, written by Canadian zoologist Dr Susan Crockford, assesses the recent mass haulouts of walrus females and calves on the beaches of Alaska and Russia bordering the Chukchi Sea. The events have been blamed by US government biologists and WWF activists on lack of summer sea ice, amplified into alarming scare stories by news media around the world.
Such claims ignore previous haulouts that suggest a different cause. Scientific reports about large walrus haulouts that have occurred repeatedly over the last 45 years show that they are not new phenomena for this region.
At least two documented incidents of similar magnitude have occurred in the recent past: one in 1978, on eastern St. Lawrence Island and the other in 1972, on the western end of Wrangel Island. The 1978 event involved an estimated total of almost 150,000 walrus hauled out within in a small geographic area.
Moreover, sea ice maps for the months when known mass haulouts occurred, compared to years when they did not, suggest no strong correlation with low sea ice levels.
“The WWF and American walrus biologists have categorically linked the Point Lay mass haulout event to global warming, but available evidence suggests that’s alarmist nonsense,” Dr Crockford said.
“Blaming lack of sea ice for recent events ignores the documented factor – large population size – that drove walruses onto beaches en masse in the past, when plenty of ice was available. Conservation measures have almost certainly led to a spectacular recovery of walrus numbers over the last few years. This suggests that recent mass haulouts are more an indicator that Chukchi walrus are nearing maximum capacity than a sign of impending global warming catastrophe,” Dr Crockford added.
Here’s the paper. [Link fixed, h/t HO]
Posted in Advocacy, Sea ice habitat, Summary, walrus
Tagged briefing paper, Chukchi Sea, global warming, Global Warming Policy Foundation, GWPF, haulouts, minimum ice extent, on the beach, population size, sea ice, St. Lawrence Island, Susan Crockford, US Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, walrus, Wrangel Island, WWF
Yes, I wondered too. After all the kerfuffle at the beginning of the month there’s been rather dead silence [see my last post here]. So I Googled and found some tidbits.
Chukchi Sea walrus, June 2014. US Fish and Wildlife Service.
An article a few days ago at one media outlet (October 8, 2014) asked someone from the WWF what happened to the ~35,000 females and calves onshore near Point Lay, Alaska — because really, who else would you ask? Or, perhaps more to the point, would anyone at USGS be expected to answer?
And one online media outlet found walrus specialists in Alaska unwilling to lay all the blame for the recent massive haulout at Point Lay at the feet of low Arctic ice levels due to global warming. See what you think.
UPDATE added below October 13, 2014
Posted in Advocacy, Sea ice habitat, walrus
Tagged Alaska, haulouts, Lara Horstmann, media hype, Nicole Misarti, Point Lay, stampedes, USGS, walrus, World Wildlife Fund, WWF