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
Last week, I called “contrived nonsense” on the claim by David Attenborough and the production crew of Netflix’s ‘Our Planet’ that the walruses they showed falling to their deaths were victims of global warming. After unbelieveable media attention since then, newly-revealed details only solidify my assertion. Something stinks, and it’s not just the bad acting of director Sophie Lanfear in the ‘Behind the Scenes‘ trailer as she delivers her WWF-approved message: “This is the sad reality of climate change”.
Despite many statements to the press, the film crew have steadfastly refused to reveal precisely where and when they filmed the walrus deaths shown in this film in relation to the walrus deaths initiated by polar bears reported by The Siberian Times in the fall of 2017.
I can only conclude, therefore, that the two incidents are indeed essentially one and the same: that the filmmakers, probably alerted by resident WWF employees at Ryrkaipiy, moved in after polar bears caused hundreds of walrus to fall to their deaths. The crew then captured on film the last few falls over the cliff as the walrus herd moved away from the haulout.
The lie being told by Attenborough and the film crew is that 200-300 walruses fell during the time they were filming, while in fact they filmed only a few: polar bears were responsible for the majority of the carcasses shown on the beach below the cliff. This is, of course, in addition to the bigger lie that lack of sea ice is to blame for walrus herds being onshore in the first place.
See my point-by-point analysis below and make up your own mind.
UPDATE 21 April 2019: I had an opportunity last night to watch the original Netflix walrus episode and have some addition thoughts that I’ve added below. [see separate post here]
Posted in Polar bear attacks, walrus
Tagged Attenborough, Cape Kozhevnikov, Chukotka, cliff, climate change, deaths, fall, global warming, haulout, heartbreaking, herd, Lanfear, McPherson, Netflix, Our Planet, polar bear, Ryrkaipiy, sea ice, walrus, WWF
A recent Netflix ‘Our Planet’ program with David Attenborough delivering a disturbing message of doom about walruses falling off a cliff to their deaths because of climate change is contrived nonsense on par with the bogus National Geographic starving polar bear video of 2017. The walruses shown in this Netflix film were almost certainly driven over the cliff by polar bears during a well-publicized incident in 2017, not because they were “confused by a combination of shrinking ice cover and their own poor eyesight“.
Apologies for neglecting to add, h/t to Charles the Moderator from WUWT!
UPDATE 8 April 2019: Falling off cliffs is not a new phenomenon. Here is video of US Fish and Wildlife officials in 1994 trying to explain a situation where walruses are falling even without the impetus from polar bears, at Cape Pierce in the southern Bering Sea (a haulout for adult males during the ice-free season). Explanation? Overcrowding (too many walruses)! h/t to Mark Sullivan.
Also, see this 8 April 2019 piece from The Atlantic that confirms the ‘Our Planet’ footage was filmed in 2017, and that “the sequence includes footage from two separate beaches—one with the 100,000-strong congregation and one with the falls.”
UPDATE 9 April 2019: For the details on why the two events described below (the one filmed by Attenborough’s ‘Our Planet’ crew and the event reported by the Siberian Times in 2017) are almost certainly one and the same, see Andrew Montford’s post at The Spectator. The Global Warming Policy Foundation has issued a press release.
UPDATE 14 April 2019: New details show that the film crew are still lying about the walrus death event in the Netflix ‘Our Planet’ episode, summarized by me here.
Posted in Advocacy, Sea ice habitat, walrus
Tagged Attenborough, cliffs, climate change, death, desperate, fall, global warming, lies, Netflix, Our Planet, plunging, polar bear, sea ice, walrus
The activist lawyer primarily responsible for polar bears being listed as ‘threatened’ on the US Endangered Species List (ESA) in 2008 is frustrated that those efforts have not generated her preferred political action. Kassie Siegel also claims in another 10 years it will be too late to save polar bears from extinction — despite clear evidence to the contrary.
In an emotional rant over at The Hill with a predictably hysterical headline, Siegel perhaps reveals more than she should about her motivation (“Keeping fossil fuels in the ground is the only way to save polar bears ravaged by climate change,” 26 May 2018).
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Population, Sea ice habitat
Tagged activists, anniversary, CBD, climate change, ESA, global warming, polar bear, politics, sea ice, walrus
Optimism in conservation science — which the Smithsonian says we desperately need (Earth Optimism Summit 21-23 April 2017, apparently a huge success) — means it’s time to acknowledge and celebrate real conservation success stories. The Smithsonian folks probably won’t say it but I will — one of those successes is the recovery of polar bears.
It’s time to abandon the focus on prophesies of impending loss and accept that recovery of polar bears from the over-hunting of last century has continued despite a decade of low summer sea ice (Aars et al. 2017; Crockford 2017; Dyck et al. 2017; SWG 2016; York et al. 2016). Why not focus on the numerous images of fat, healthy bears rather than the anomalous starving ones?
It’s time to let go of imagined future catastrophes based on pessimistic failures of adaptation (Amstrup et al. 2007, 2008; Atwood et al. 2016; Stirling and Derocher 2012) and acknowledge that polar bears and Arctic seals, just like Pacific walrus (MacCracken et al. 2017; US Fish & Wildlife Service 2017), are resilient species with adaptive capabilities we are only just beginning to comprehend (Crawford and Quakenbush 2013; Crawford et al. 2015; Escajeda et al. 2018; Rode et al. 2014; Stirling and Lunn 1997; Stirling et al. 1975a; Vibe 1965). Continue reading
Posted in Conservation Status, Summary
Tagged abundance, conservation, facts, observations, optimism, populations, save the polar bear, science, sea ice, success, walrus
In early October, the US Fish & Wildlife Service reversed its 2011 decision to list Pacific walrus as ‘threatened with extinction’, saying they could not “determine with certainty that walruses are likely to become endangered “in the foreseeable future.” [details below]
I have argued that the 2008 decision by the USFWS to list polar bears as ‘threatened’ is similarly lacking in certainty (Crockford 2017) and as for walrus, the previous determination of ‘threatened’ for polar bears was premature and should be reversed.
A prominent biology colleague and I recently put it this way in a newly published essay:
“Is it ethical or fair to the many citizens impacted directly and indirectly by the 2008 polar bear ruling for the FWS to allow polar bears to remain on the Endangered Species List?”
Read our piece in the winter 2018 issue of RANGE Magazine (open access), authored by myself and Dr. Valerius Geist, professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Calgary, Alberta.
Crockford, S.J. and Geist, V. 2018. Conservation Fiasco. Range Magazine, Winter 2017/2018, pg. 26-27. Pdf here.
PS. You’ll find an excellent piece on wildfires by biologist Jim Steele in the same issue.
See also Crockford, S.J. 2017. Testing the hypothesis that routine sea ice coverage of 3-5 mkm2 results in a greater than 30% decline in population size of polar bears (Ursus maritimus). PeerJ Preprints 2 March 2017. Doi: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.2737v3 Open access. https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.2737v3
Details on the USFWS decision on the walrus is below. Note that like the walrus, if ESA protection on the polar bear was reversed, the bears would still be strongly protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (as they have been since 1972), and like the walrus, polar bears have shown an ability to adapt that was not foreseen in 2007 (as evidenced by their failure to die off droves in response to recent sea ice declines).
Posted in Conservation Status, Sea ice habitat, walrus
Tagged conservation, endangered, ESA, essay, global warming, polar bear, sea ice loss, threatened, USFWS, walrus