Walruses Again Gather Much Earlier Than Usual At Alaska Beach Sites

“Pacific walruses have begun massing onshore in Alaska on a Chukchi Sea beach, one of the earliest of the now-annual congregations at that site yet recorded, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

Walruses were spotted on July 29 a beach near the Inupiat village of Point Lay and numbered about 5,000 as of Aug. 5, said Andrea Medeiros, a spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Last year, after a record-hot Alaska summer and in a year that was notable for its sparsity of ice in the Chukchi, walruses also gathered at Point Lay at the end of July, at the time earliest such congregation on record. This summer’s Alaska weather and Chukchi Sea ice extent have not been as extreme, yet the walrus congregation appears to have started a day earlier than last year’s onshore crowding, Medeiros said — and much earlier than the end-of-August or September timing seen in previous years.”

Yereth Rosen reports for ArcticToday August 13, 2020.