Alaska wildlife

Mass death of walruses

September 19th, 2009
Walruses por flickkerphotos.

As many as two hundred dead walruses have been spotted on the shore of Chukchi Sea on Alaska’s northwest coast. Wildlife researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey report the dead walruses appeared to be mostly new calves or yearlings. They may have been crushed in a panic stampede triggered by a polar bear or a helicopter. Large numbers of walruses are gathering on Alaska’s northwest coast, a sign their Arctic sea ice environment has been altered by climate change, the second time in three years that this has happened. They cannot swim indefinitely and until recently used sea ice as a platform for diving in the Bering and Chukchi seas for clams and other food on the ocean floor. Now, sea ice has receded far beyond the outer continental shelf, forcing walruses to choose between riding the ice over waters too deep to reach clams or onto shore. More here

Meanwhile, Sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean reached the third lowest level on record last year, according to the latest NASA statistics. Here

Photo by Thundafunda

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

September 5th, 2009

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through public education. AWCC takes in injured and orphaned animals year-round and provides spacious enclosures and quality animal care. Animals that cannot be released into the wild are given a permanent home at the center. AWCC encourages you to visit the center with your walking shoes and camera in hand for an educational Alaskan experience to remember. More here

Grizzly Bears feeding at Brooks Falls

August 23rd, 2009
Brooks Falls 2 por Rhonda2327.

Grizzly Bears feeding at Brooks Falls in the Katmai National Park, Alaska. At times dozens of bears can be seen gorging on the sockeye salmon swimming upstream on their way to their spawning grounds. Photo by Brian Ronda (CCL). See also this rather amusing video:

North American wildlife news 1

August 7th, 2009

A grizzly bear standing in sage brush.

Photo: NPS/Peaco

A quick round of the latest news affecting wildlife and nature in North America. I picked up the idea from this site.

  • Climate change could result in the catastrophic loss of wildlife in US’s National Parks.  Service is called on to create a system to manage animals and plants. A new report calls on federal government to take decisive action to avoid “a potentially catastrophic loss of animal and plant life” in national parks” LA Times See also Yellowstone’s grizzly bears and other wildlife at risk from climate change “In Yellowstone, a tiny beetle may decide the fate of the kingly grizzly bear. Whitebark pine nuts provide a valuable food source for the bears. A beetle that destroys the whitebark pine tree has gained a considerable foothold in Yellowstone because of the effects of climate change. In some parts of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, beetles have destroyed up to 90 percent of the trees in whitebark pine forests. Removing this important component of the grizzly bears’ diet puts considerable stress on the species that could ultimately lead to extinction.”
  • A report by the US geological survey indicates a steep rise in the melt rate of American glaciers over the last 10-15 years. The study looks at three “benchmark” glaciers- Wolverine and Gulkana in Alaska and South Cascade in Washington – as representative of thousands of other glaciers in North America. The Guardian
  • Scientists In Alaska spot a bar-tailed godwit tagged in Australia near Victoria – more than 8,000 miles away.
  • Pollution is icreasing in US beaches according to this article.
  • A coalition of environmental groups is attempting to intervene in a lawsuit from snowmobilers challenging critical habitat designations for the Canada lynx. Here
  • King salmon runs in Alaska have been closed this year as fewer fish have returned from the ocean. The decline could be down to changes in river conditions, ocean currents or the predator-prey balance.
  • More bobcats sighted in Seattle area First it was bears, now it’s bobcats that seem to be popping up in Western Washington urban areas.
  • Coyotes struggle as mange spreads “Every night it used to be quite a serenade,Rocky Hoffmann at the Nebraska Game and Parks office in North Platte said. But we’ve had a tremendous mange problem throughout the state, and the numbers are down”
  • Sea Otter Population Rebounds in US Northwest The population began to recover in 1969, with a couple dozen survivors from a reintroduction effort. Today, there are well over 1,000 sea otters in the Pacific waters off Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.
  • Rare wolverine spotted in the Pioneers

Bear watching in Katmai National Park

July 22nd, 2009

Every year millions of salmon arrive from the Bering Sea into the lakes and streams of Katmai National Park. These fish provide a food source for the world’s largest population of brown bears.This is a great place for observing one of the world’s great wildlife spectacles.  Brooks Falls is only a short walk from Katmailand’s Brooks Lodge. As many as fifty bears can be watched fishing along the short stretch of Brooks River during the peak of the salmon season. Note Driving to Brooks Lodge is not possible as there are no roads and the lodge is only  accessible by air only.

Alaska walrus survey raises alarm

July 22nd, 2009 A partial survey of Pacific walrus estimates their minimum population at just 15,164. A 1990 aerial survey estimated the population at 201,039 in the same region, but the count is likely to have missed a number of animals Anchorage Daily News See also: Canada, Greenland to do High Arctic walrus survey The movement of walrus is becoming increasingly important as the Arctic sea ice shrinks (CBC)