From afar this may just look like a rocky beach, but if you look a little closer, you’ll see that this isn’t sand. This stretch of coast is actually covered in misplaced walruses.
Late last month, an estimated 35,000 walruses were spotted hauling themselves onto the shore near Point Lay, Alaska.
Things are not looking good for Alaska’s walrus population. Their habitat is slowly disappearing due to the effects of climate change.
Walruses normally use stretches of sea ice for resting and breeding while diving to for food. But the warming climate pushed bigger pieces of sea ice further out to places too deep for walruses to dive for food. This results in scenes like this.
The animals were spotted during an annual marine mammal survey.
Since walruses cannot swim as well as other marine mammals, they use sea ice to rest while swimming. Unfortunately, climate change is drastically reducing the amount of stable sea ice in the shallows near the coast where walruses live.
This isn’t the first time a large herd of walruses were spotted on land. This happened before in 2009 and 2011.
The future does not look good for walruses if something is not done to mitigate the damage of climate change to their environment. This summer had the sixth smallest amount of sea ice since satellite monitoring of the Arctic began in 1979.
In the meantime, these 35,000 animals are stuck where they are until more sea ice returns in the winter.
This is heartbreaking. It terrifies me to think about a future where the world takes no action to reverse climate change. We have to figure something out soon.