Walruses behave differently due to lack of sea ice - New York News

Walruses behave differently due to lack of sea ice

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Walrus tracking map (USGS) Walrus tracking map (USGS)

By DAN JOLING | AP

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- A lack of summer sea ice is changing the behavior of Pacific walruses, but they don't know what the effect will be, federal scientists said.

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and Russia tagged 251 walruses in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northern coast and tracked their movements from 2008 to 2011. The results were released at a news conference Wednesday in Anchorage.

The study shows walruses are arriving earlier than normal at northern feeding grounds in the summer, according to a news release. When sea ice melted completely, the walruses hauled out on land and foraged for food closer to shore.

Scientists said they don't yet understand the impact of the new behavior, but noted possible higher mortality rates for younger walruses from being trampled.  

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