"Walruses Suffer Substantial Losses as Sea Ice Erodes"

"Half a century after Pacific walruses began recovering from industrial-scale hunting, marine biologists are growing worried that they face a mounting threat from global warming.

Masses of lumbering walruses have been crowding on beaches and rocks along the Russian and American sides of the Bering Strait in the absence of the coastal sea ice that normally serves as a late-summer haven and nursery.

While the retreats in sea ice around the Arctic this summer were not as extensive as in 2008 or 2007, the Chukchi Sea, at the heart of the walrus subspecies’ range, was largely open water.

On Thursday, biologists from the United States Geological Survey issued a report concluding that 131 walruses found dead near Icy Cape, Alaska, on Sept. 14 died from being crushed or stampeded. Several thousand walruses had been congregating in the area, a situation that scientists from the agency said was highly unusual. "

Andrew C. Revkin reports for the New York Times October 2, 2009.

Monday, October 5, 2009