Lack of sea ice sends seal pups and walrus calves to beach

Photo by Nils Hahn FOUND DEAD— This male walrus calf was one of two that washed up dead on the beaches of Nome earlier this month. Friday, May 10, 2019 Gay Sheffield with UAF Alaska Sea Grant in Nome prepares the calf to be sent to the North Slope Borough Dept. of Wildlife Management for a full examination of its condition and to learn the cause of death.

Alaska Sea Grant, Kawerak, Inc. and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are preparing to place signs along the beaches near Nome, alerting the public about an increasing number of ice-associated seal pups resting along the shore.

The signs remind the public not to disturb the animals, unless they are Alaska Native engaged in subsistence harvest activities.

In recent days, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent Gay Sheffield has responded to multiple reports involving both live and dead marine mammals, including young ice-associated seals as well as two walrus calves.

“Normally these seal pups would be on the ice. But with the unprecedented open water conditions throughout the Bering Strait region, the pups are coming to the beach,” said Sheffield.

On the beach, the young seals are confronting all-terrain vehicles, dog walkers, dogs off leash and other things that can disturb or harm them.

Read more in this Nome Nugget story.

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