Here’s what it looks like when 10,000 walruses don’t have ice to hang out on
Imagine for a second that you’re a walrus. You like hanging out on sea ice. It’s cool. It’s closer to your fishing grounds. You can dive off it and look for clams and snails and worms. It’s your jam.
But now there’s not enough ice. You remember that there’s an alternative, though. A beach. Not too far, near Point Lay. No humans. So you head over there. It’s pretty crowded. Scientists later estimate that there are 1,500 to 4,000 of you by Sept. 12. But it is convenient, so you stick around. And more walruses come, and more. Until, by Sept. 27, there are 10,000 of you on the beach.
But you know what? The beach isn’t even that crowded this year. At least not yet. Last year, there was enough sea ice that you stayed away. But the year before that, in 2011, there were 30,000 of you here. Point Lay, you decide, is so over. Next year you might as well go to Iceland, like everyone else. At least until that melts too.
NOAA'S AERIAL SURVEYS OF ARCTIC MARINE MAMMALS PHOTOGRAPH WALRUS HAULOUT SITE, NOAA.