The Reason These 35,000 Walruses Are Hanging Out on an Alaskan Beach Is Not As Cute As It Looks

Photo: Corey Accardo/NOAA/NMFS/AFSC/NMML

Wow — look at all those walruses! Truly stunning. Ready to have it ruined by the harsh realities of what we’ve done to this earth? First, take one last glimpse at that walrus party.

Okay. “The extraordinary sighting — the biggest known exodus of walruses to dry land ever observed in the Arctic under U.S. control — arrived as the summer sea ice fell to its sixth lowest in the satellite record last month,” The Guardian reports. That’s right: climate change. “Those animals have essentially run out of offshore sea ice, and have no other choice but to come ashore,” said a research ecologist in Alaska. Now we just have to be careful we don’t kill them.

It’s super warm all the way across the Pacific to Japan,” said NOAA oceanographer Bill Peterson in a statement; melted ice threatens the “long-term health of walrus and polar bear populations.”

But there are even more immediate concerns: The FAA has rerouted flights and requested that pilots stay far away from the beach crowd (“a giant pig pile”) for fear of inciting a stampede that would leave the animals — mostly females and their young — vulnerable. They’re just not used to being packed so close together. Great job, humans.

Photo: Corey Accardo/NOAA/NMFS/AFSC/NMML
Why 35,000 Walruses Are Hanging Out on a Beach