Scientists know that when summer sea ice in the Arctic melts away from their shallow feeding grounds, Pacific walrus will haul out on land to stay near their food. The Icy Cape stampede showed scientists that land haulouts in the Chukchi Sea can be dangerous for young walrus. Scientists wonder how walrus populations will be impacted when the walrus have to use land haul outs more and more often. To understand how walrus populations might be affected by changes in their Arctic habitat, scientists first had to understand "normal" Pacific walrus behavior.
Take a look at the videos and fact sheet below to explore what researchers already know about the mysterious Pacific walrus.
VIDEO: The Pacific Walrus
Understanding walruses' relationship with sea ice is important to understanding their behavior. (1 minute)
WALRUS FACT SHEET (click to download .pdf)
Female walrus and their calves use sea ice all year. They migrate to the Chukchi sea in summer because there is so much food available for them there. Watch the video below to hear Dr. Lori Polasek talk more about how females and calves may be affected if they can't haul out on sea ice and must move to areas on land, instead.
VIDEO: Females and Calves
Dr. Lori Polasek describes how females and calves might be impacted by hauling out on land instead of sea ice. (1.5 minutes)
Arctic sea ice extent is impacted by changes in seasonal and global climate. Walrus respond to changes in sea ice by migrating and adapting their behavior. Understanding how sea ice forms and why it melts can help scientists understand more specifically how walrus will be influenced. Check out the sea ice fact sheet below!
SEA ICE FACT SHEET (click to download .pdf)
This important background knowledge helped scientists from the Alaska SeaLife Center develop a research project studying walrus.