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Images: Abandoned Walrus Calves Reported in the Arctic

Scientists spotted nine walrus calves like this one in the Arctic Ocean in 2004, swimming unaccompanied by their mothers far from shore in deep water. The scientists speculate that melting sea ice may be forcing mothers to strand their pups in deep water. (Photo by Carin Ashjian, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Abandoned by the mothers too far offshore to swim back to land, walrus calves would likely succumb to starvation and drowning. (Photo by Phil Alatalo, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Sea surface temperatures from satellite imagery during Aug. 12-18, 2004, shows a plume of warm Bering Sea water extending into the area where scientists saw unaccompanied walrus calves. Black tones denote either land or sea surface areas where cloud cover or sea ice interfered with remote measurement. White squares show locations of walrus calf sightings and red squares indicate other stations occupied during the research cruise. The open red box northeast of Wainwright indicates locations where groups of adult walruses, some with calves, were observed during the cruise. Bathymetric contours are shown as white lines. Numbers of lone calves sighted at each location are listed next to each white box. Stations in open black box east of Barrow are a transect line that is shown as a vertical cross section in the figure below. (Cooper et al, Aquatic Mammals)

Cross section plots comparing water temperatures on a transect line east of Point Barrow during (a) July 29 - August 4, 2002 and(b) July 28 to Aug. 8, 2004. Data points are depths and locations of water samples collected. Insets show the locations of transect lines relative to the northern coast of Alaska. (Cooper et al, Aquatic Mammals)