By Paul Homewood

h/t Ian Magness

The babies are out in force in the Telegraph today!

Quite why the ice loving walruses should come south as the “Arctic warms up” is a mystery. Surely they would head further north where it is colder.

In any event, the Arctic Ocean is chock full of ice at the moment, and throughout the last three months temperatures have been hovering around normal, which rather makes a nonsense of claims about Wally.

In other words there is no justification whatsoever to play the climate card.

Contrary to popular myth, the Atlantic Walrus is perfectly happy hauled on land, instead of sea ice. What is critical to them is the availability of nearby shallow water as they are bottom feeders, eating molluscs. As NAMMCO, the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission report:

Walrus occupy a large range but have a narrow ecological niche, requiring large areas of shallow water with bottom substrates that support a productive bivalve community and the reliable presence of open water over feeding areas, as well as suitable ice or land nearby for haulout.

Habitat use by walrus varies according to the season. For most of the year, walrus are widely dispersed over vast areas where they usually occur in clumped groups (Heide-Jørgensen et al. 2013). In spring and summer, walrus are generally found in coastal areas throughout their distribution, where water depths are relatively shallow and they can access their favoured benthic foods. Summer habitat use is also driven by available haulout areas (Freitas 2009). Proximity to human settlements is also a factor in habitat choice, as walrus that are disturbed or displaced from an area tend not to return.

Too much sea ice can actually be a bad thing if it restricts feeding to deeper waters. Even WWF accept this point:

Atlantic Walrus are certainly an endangered species, but not because of the popular myth of global warming. The real problem has been hunting to virtual extinction in the last couple of centuries. Indeed Vikings managed to do the same in Iceland a thousand years ago!

If walrus are left alone by humans, they will no doubt thrive just as they have done during previous millennia of climate change.

Meantime Wally, who appears to have fallen asleep on an iceberg, will probably enjoy the change of scenery!


May 29, 2021