In order to study the effects of reduced sea ice conditions on the pacific walrus population of northwestern Alaska, researchers will attempt to tag 35 walruses with satellite transmitters this month.
The ongoing study is being conducted by the USGS Alaska Science Center, in cooperation with the Native Village of Point Lay.
Walruses spend most of their lives at sea and often rest on shelves of sea ice, but with sea ice receding away from the land and into the deep ocean, the walruses will haul themselves on to beaches in Alaska and Russia.
Walruses came to shore in late August in 2010, but have, reportedly, already been showing up on shores just a few weeks into August this year.
According to the USGS Alaska Science Center, radio-tracking the walruses will provide insights into their behavior in response to changing sea ice conditions.
“Sea ice is an important component in the life cycle of walruses,” said Chad Jay, research ecologist with the USGS Alaska Science Center. “These tracking studies will help us to better understand how top consumers in the arctic ecosystem may be affected by changes in sea ice habitats.”
Researchers have already attached 40 tags to walruses back in July.
The USGS Alaska Science Center Pacific Walrus Research Program has been collecting data on walrus activity around the Bering and Chukchi seas since 2004.
The USGS Alaska Science Center will be posting animations of the collected data on their site.