Anchorage, Alaska – Last week, about three dozen walrus carcasses were discovered at a northwest Alaska beach, near Point Lay. According to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, the deaths were due to a natural episode.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife announced on Thursday that an employee of the U.S. Geological Survey handed the service a series of photos of the walrus carcasses. They are currently investigating these photographs in order to find for how long the carcasses had been on the beach, as well as the age class of the animals.

“We haven’t had a chance to go out there and confirm whether they’re from this year or last year or identify the cause of death”, said James MacCracken, a supervisory biologist and a walrus specialist at FWS. The Pacific Walrus is important to the diet of many coastal Alaska Natives, the Alaska Dispatch news reported.

Walruses are relatively long-lived, social animals, considered to be a “keystone species” in the Arctic marine regions. Credit: WikiBrew

The information will be revealed later by an expert since Federal prosecutors said that they can not comment on the case. Until now, there is no suspect that it has been a manipulated death. “The carcasses were intact. They did not provide a number of dead walruses,” CBS news stated.

In addition, the walrus is a large flippered marine mammal with a discontinuous distribution through the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean and subarctic seas of the Northern Hemisphere.

Previous cases

The first series of dead Walruses found on shore were spotted at the U.S. side of the Chukchi Sea in 2007. Later that year, on September 2, thirty-five thousand walruses were spotted near Point Lay, the same location reported last week. The cause of death for this event has not been determined.

Another case was reported at Cape Lisburne, where 25 walruses were found dead. The U.S. Attorney in Alaska is currently supervising this investigation.

CBS News reportedly commented, “The fate of the walrus has become a cause for concern as climate warming diminishes summer sea ice and the polar ice cap recedes beyond the shallow outer continental shelf over water too deep for walruses to reach clams and snails on the ocean floor.”

Walruses assembled in large herds can stampede putting them in situations that may endanger their lives, even because of the sound of an airplane. The youngest mammals tend to be crushed in these desperate episodes by trying to get to the ocean for safety. Moreover, in 2009, nearly 130 mostly young walruses were found at Alaska’s Icy Cape.

Source: Alaska Dispatch News