Two More Walrus Calves Headed To SeaLife Center

Two more walrus calves are on their way to the Alaska SeaLife Center. Both were rescued near Barrow yesterday. One was found floating on an ice floe by hunters looking for bearded seal. The other one showed up on a beach in Barrow. Raphaela Stimmelmayr is a Wildlife Veterinarian with the North Slope Borough. She says a representative from the Alaska SeaLife Center was landing in Barrow to pick up the first calf when she heard about the second one.

“Both of them were not in such great body condition. So, ribs were palpable, you could see some of the hip bones protruding so these calves most likely have been without nursing for quite a while, but its hard to say how long,” Stimmelmayr said.

The Alaska SeaLife Center started caring for another walrus pup from Barrow last week. All three are young males. And none of the calves appear to have the mysterious illness that’s affecting marine mammals in the Arctic.

Bruce Woods is a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He says it’s unusual to have so many abandoned calves from one area in such a short time span.

“That said, we have seen abandoned walrus calves picked up on several occasions over the years. At this point, we don’t know of anything that could be a specific cause in either all or any one of these cases. There seems to be adequate ice in the area from what we know and the walrus are using the ice at this point,” Woods said.

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Annie Feidt is the Editor and Producer of Alaska News Nightly, and is also a frequent contributor to the show. Her reporting has taken her searching for polar bears on the Chukchi Sea ice, out to remote checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail, and up on the Eklutna Glacier with scientists studying its retreat. Her stories have been heard nationally on NPR and Marketplace.

Annie’s career in radio journalism began in 1998 at Minnesota Public Radio, where she produced the regional edition of All Things Considered. She moved to Anchorage in 2004 with her husband, intending to stay in the 49thstate just a few years. She has no plans to leave anytime soon.

afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8443 | About Annie