On September 14, 2009, we encountered substantial numbers of fresh walrus carcasses on the Alaskan shores of the Chukchi Sea near Icy Cape. We enumerated 131 carcasses using geo-referenced strip transect photography and visual counts of solitary carcasses. All appeared to be young animals based on review of aerial photographs and reference to 12 carcasses that we examined on the ground. The events that led to the death of these animals are unknown, but appear to be related to the loss of sea ice over the Chukchi Sea continental shelf. In years prior to this event, other investigators have linked walrus deaths at other Chukchi Sea coastal haulouts to trampling, exhaustion from prolonged exposure to open sea conditions, and separation of calves from their mothers.
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USGS Numbered Series
Enumeration of Pacific Walrus Carcasses on Beaches of the Chukchi Sea in Alaska Following a Mortality Event, September 2009