35,000 Walruses

The average male Walrus is something to behold – up to 11 feet long, 3700 pounds, punctuated with three foot tusks. Ponder 35,000 Walruses along a few thousand feet of Alaskan shoreline.

On September 27, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) captured the first image above during their annual aerial arctic marine mammal survey. Entwined along a one Kilometer beach near Point Lay Alaska, clustered Walruses represent a phenomenon known as “haul out”.
Hauling out – forced to rest on land rather than sea ice – hit scientific radar in 2007. Since then, diminished sea ice accounts for hauled out behemoths as the norm, rather than occasional exception.  In a perfect world Walrus spend 80% of their time at sea. Summer found females and calves along the continental shelf, feeding in shallow waters of the Chukchi Sea between Russia and Alaska. Over the last decade, escalating sea ice melt – an irrefutable consequence of warmer arctic climate – has radically altered Walrus behavior.
Pondering hauled out Walrus populations might not present itself as earth shattering news. Considering this trend in perspective of climate change is. Debating the cause of global warming is best left for another day – understanding the reality, regardless of whether your tent is pitched in the natural cycle or carbon emissions camp, is what matters. Global warming is real – a reality with tangible implications.
Before I continue – a link to earthsky explaining arctic and antarctic ice…
Climate change eclipsed science a long time ago – it resides in the arena of political buzz words, special interest propaganda, and conspiracy alarmists. Amidst all the hullabaloo, we seem to have forgotten our faithful barometer – nature. Free of ulterior motives, financial gain, political posturing or plain old denial – nature speaks unbiased truth to the state of our affairs.