Mary River Mine: Another Challenge to Walrus Habitat

Obviously, walrus already face a number of challenges related to habitat and sea ice loss related to global climate change. But of course, development and human activity have just as great an impact on walrus. Here’s a recent example – Baffinland Iron Mine Co’s Mary River Mine. The proposed mine is to be located on Baffin Island and according to the recently files Environmental Imact Statement, mining activities will have an impact on local species including (Pacific) Walrus. The impact on species including Arctic Char,  Pacific Walrus and numerous other mammals is alleged to be “negligible,” “small in magnitude” and “fully reversible” – however the EIS concedes that “walrus habitat will change for the life of the Project as a result of the footprint of the dock structures”, which sounds like more than a “negligible” impact to this blogger.

The local paper, Nunatsiaq Online, has the full story at this link: “Nunavut’s Mary River mine could disrupt water, Arctic char and walrus”.

Umky Patrol: Protecting us from polar bears, protecting walrus from themselves.

This video just showed up on YouTube.  This is from the from the World Wildlife Fund and explains their “Umky Patrols” which is a partnership with the Chukchi in Northern Russia. Primarily to keep polar bears from continuing to intrude on villages and become scavengers, the patrols are also protecting the large walrus haul-outs occurring (apparently) on the Russian “side” as well. Their protection of the walrus is centered on controlling panicked stampedes among the large haul outs, which result in crushed calf walruses. The walrus portion of this video starts at 1:29, although there are some disturbing images of dead walrus – so this one’s probably not for the younger kids.

The Umky Patrol highlighted here is in Russia – but we’ve got the same issues going on in Alaska. In fact the Chuchki apparently recently visited their counterparts in Alaska to share expertise and hopefully extend the protective efforts to “our” fragile Arctic animals as well.

Chukotka, by the way – is directly across the Bering Strait from Alaska and is the closest Russian territory to the US. That part of Russia that Sarah Palin can “see” from her back porch – it’d be Chukotka. That would make these Pacific Walruses.

For more on WWF’s work in the Arctic, and on the Umky Patrol, visit:

Onshore walrus migration in Alaska due to melting sea ice

I’ll look for some more info and maybe pictures related to this story. Hopefully, the coming winter will rebuild some of the ice, but it looks like bleak times for our friend the Pacific Walrus….

Pacific Walrus Faces Dire Future

This is surely what the Very Worried Walrus is worried about!

A sobering press release today from the Center for Biological Diversity:

A new federal report today finds there’s a 40-percent chance that the Pacific walrus, a species imperiled by loss of sea ice due to global warming, will be on a pathway to extinction by the end of the century.

Global warming, regardless of your political position on the issue, or whether it represents a (geologic) short-term change or a long term shift in the planet’s climate, is a serious threat to all cold climate large animals, particularly our beloved Walrus and the polar bear.

Here’s a link to the complete document.

I need to see these animals in the wild before it’s too late, and I need to make sure I take my son with me.