From Thin Ice Blog:
The king of the haulout
Posted by Tom Arnbom on August 16, 2013
We are heading out in the mist after an overnight stop at the larger Beigihevs island. More and more seabirds are passing the boat – a sign that we’re entering richer seas.
After a few hours we see a sandspit at distance. Yes! a few walrus, no more than maybe 30 individuals. YES! there are more than 400 of them, and in the middle, on a small piece of ice, is the king — a fat male polar bear. It is like sitting in a smorgasbord.
We are now 50 km south of Maria Pronchistcheva Bay. We will head up to the bay before deciding where we should camp. We have found the Laptev walrus, and the work can soon begin.
What’s a haulout?
Walruses sometimes congregate in large numbers on land – this is called a “haulout”. In some areas where sea ice levels have decreased, we are seeing extremely large haulouts as the walruses abandon the ice and head to shore. On a previous trip through the Russian Arctic in 2009, WWF researchers encountered an enormous haulout of about 20,000 individuals. This is what it looked like:
This video says about itself:
While on the Northeast Passage expedition, the WWF Arctic Programme’s Geoff York and the rest of the crew of the ‘Explorer of Sweden’ witnesses the incredible – and worrying – sight of an estimated 20,000 walrus on shore at Ryrkaipiy on the Chukchi Sea in Russia. Here’s some amazing footage. For more information about the WWF Arctic Programme and the reasons behind the haulout, please visit http://www.panda.org/arctic.
- Estimating Age Ratios and Size of Pacific Walrus Herds on Coastal Haulouts using Video Imaging (plosone.org)
- WWF-Canon expedition tackles Siberian mystery ()
- Arctic Albedo Loss Threatens Wildlife (truthdig.com)
- Loss of Arctic sea ice affecting entire ecosystem: study (ctvnews.ca)
- In pictures: Polar bear tries to hitch a lift (dailyrecord.co.uk)
- Arctic sea-ice loss has widespread effects on wildlife (earthsky.org)