A story that broke in Alaska newspapers a month ago made the UK press this weekend about the archaeological discovery of 1,300 year old polar bear skull that may be associated with an unusual body type known to Inuit hunters. See the Mail Online cropped headline below, full story here – and some quotes and critical background below.
Posted in History, Life History
Tagged ancient, archaeological remains, body type, genetics, history, king bear, polar bear, race, subspecies, weasel bear
A brief historical perspective on the failed predictions that have plagued scientific understanding of Arctic sea ice changes – predictions embraced wholeheartedly by polar bear specialists and conservation experts. It’s worth a watch.
Transcript here from the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
Posted in Advocacy, Sea ice habitat, Summary
Tagged death spiral, decline, extinction, facts, history, polar bear, predictions, sea ice, September ice minimum, threatened
Walrus researchers from the US Geological Survey have a new report on the history of walrus haulouts in the Chukchi and Bering Seas – yet their media efforts (via press release and interviews) fail to mention the relationship between fluctuating size of walrus haulouts and fluctuating walrus population size that is evident in that history. In fact, overall population size is not mentioned at all.
Two articles came out over the weekend that announced the results of this new joint US-Russian initiative [PBS, Walrus beaching in Alaska might not be as harmful as it looks. Here’s why – 31 July 2016 and ADN, Alaska and Russia join forces to create 160-year database of walrus haulouts – 31 July 2016]
But neither articles nor the new USGS paper they are touting (Fischback et al. 2016) mention the huge summer/fall haulouts of females, calves, and juveniles that were documented in the 1970s that coincided with the huge population size at that time, which crashed in the 1980s.
Only now has the population grown (to at least 200,000) to the point that huge haulouts are again being reported – conservation has done it’s job. But when walrus numbers get too high the animals out-strip their food source and numbers plummet, as they did in the 1980s (Fay et al. 1989; Garlich-Miller et al. 2011). See my fully referenced summary paper, Crockford 2014 (On The Beach: Walrus Haulouts are Nothing New).
Here’s the concern: When (not if) a population crash happens again, will it be blamed on global warming rather than natural causes? According to the PBS article:
“The database is supposed to help federal officials with conservation, especially as more ships start sailing through the newly open waters. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is determining whether walrus should be listed as a threatened species.” [my bold]
My GWPF video on the issue (The Walrus Fuss) below:
See excerpts from the USGS database below, with a map:
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Sea ice habitat, walrus
Tagged Alaska, beaching, Bering Sea, change, Chukchi Sea, facts, Fischbach, global warming, GWPF, haul out, haulout, history, Point Lay, population size, report, St. Lawrence Island, threatened, USGS, video, walrus, Walrus Fuss
I came across a story in the news yesterday about the discovery of an archaeological site in northeastern Manitoba that brings to mind a post I wrote back in November 2012 on the geological and archaeological history of Hudson Bay.
As I noted then, most of the archaeological sites found on or near the coast of Hudson Bay are about 1,000 years old or less – and this new site fits that pattern perfectly.
A news report at the CBC (June 30, 2014) carried this description of the find, at a site called Hubbard Point, which sounds like it could yield polar bear remains: Continue reading
Posted in History
Tagged archaeological site, archaeology, bones, history, Hudson Bay, Inuit, Manitoba, polar bear, tent rings, Virginia Petch, western hudson bay