Walruses climbing cliffs and falling off them are natural events: 1994 video from Alaska

From Polar Bear Science

Posted on September 1, 2019 | Comments Off on Walruses climbing cliffs and falling off them are natural events: 1994 video from Alaska

US Fish and Wildlife officials in 1994 explain walruses falling to their deaths from a cliff at Cape Pierce in the southern Bering Sea (a haulout for adult males during the ice-free season). Explanation? Overcrowding (too many walruses)!

Hype from the Netflix/Attenborough ‘climate change is gonna destroy the world’ fearmongers earlier this year notwithstanding – or the media this summer trying to stir up climate change fever – the US Fish and Wildlife Service determined in October 2017 that the Pacific walrus is not being harmed by climate change and is not likely to be harmed within the foreseeable future (USFWS 2017). The IUCN Red List (2015) lists the Pacific walrus as ‘data deficient‘.

Large herds onshore are a sign of population health, not climate change, and walruses have come ashore in the Chukchi Sea during the ice-free season in summer and/or fall for more than 100 years (Crockford 2014; Fischbach et al. 2016; Lowrey 1985). Those are the relevant scientific facts.

References

Crockford, S. J. 2014a. On the Beach: Walrus Haulouts are Nothing New. Global Warming Policy Foundation Briefing Paper 11. Pdf herehttp://www.thegwpf.org/susan-crockford-on-the-beach-2/

Crockford, S. J. 2014b.The Walrus Fuss: Walrus Haulouts are Nothing New https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwaAwsS2OOY 23 Oct 2014. [15,141 views at 31 Aug 2019]

Fischbach, A.S., Kochnev, A.A., Garlich-Miller, J.L., and Jay, C.V. 2016. Pacific walrus coastal haulout database, 1852–2016—Background report: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1108. http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161108. The online database is found here.

Lowry, L. 1985. “Pacific Walrus – Boom or Bust?” Alaska Fish & Game Magazine July/August: 2-5. pdf here.

MacCracken, J.G., Beatty, W.S., Garlich-Miller, J.L., Kissling, M.L and Snyder, J.A. 2017. Final Species Status Assessment for the Pacific Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens), May 2017 (Version 1.0). US Fish & Wildlife Service, Anchorage, AK. Pdf here (8.6 mb).

USFWS 2017. “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Findings on Petitions to List 25 Species as Endangered or Threatened Species” [pdf] 4 October

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Earthling2
September 2, 2019 10:15 pm

Maybe they think there are lady Walrus’s up the hill, and they are showing off by sliding down the cliff, hoping to attract a mate. Boy’s and men are always showing off and getting themselves in all kinds of trouble. I just saw on the news some poor kid cliff diving, but missed the water by that much. Undoubtedly, trying to impress the girls.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Earthling2
September 2, 2019 11:17 pm

There is ample scope for wrong deductions when people try to imagine what animals are thinking.
Some people hide behind the refuge that there is no known way, as yet, to prove that they actually deduced what the animals were thinking.
In the case of the walrus, why try to imagine animal thought processes when a more basic job like counting them remains to be done? Geoff S.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
September 3, 2019 5:49 am

Right on, ……. remind people that ….. walruses are not lemmings …… and they don’t follow Pied Pipers off of cliffs.

tty
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
September 3, 2019 9:03 am

Neither do lemmings.

james feltus
Reply to  tty
September 5, 2019 3:03 pm

Except, perhaps, the Lemming of Hanover, who doesn’t exist, because there are no lemmings in Hanover. And I hate to break the news to you, Samuel C., but there was no Pied Piper, either. I mean, there may have been, at one time, but I think he died in a cliff fall accident.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Earthling2
September 3, 2019 12:35 am

US Fish and Wildlife officials in 1994 explain walruses falling to their deaths from a cliff at Cape Pierce in the southern Bering Sea (a haulout for adult males during the ice-free season). Explanation? Overcrowding (too many walruses)!
__________________________________________________

But the biologist already offered an alternative explanation:

Obviously the walruses take the hill the easiest way.

To return they just take the shortest way, unaware of the dangers by the steep cliff.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
September 3, 2019 5:20 am

To return they just take the shortest way, unaware of the dangers by the steep cliff.

Then there should be dozens of dead walruses, each year, piled up a the bottom of the cliff.

The Beachmaster walrus is more likely the culprit, …… with the “fleeing” underling’s only intent is to escape the wrath of “the boss”.

Mastodons are also noted for “running off cliffs”.

Rocketscientist
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
September 3, 2019 7:45 am

I haven’t seen too many Mastodon cliff suicides recently, but bison can be stampeded into dead-falls.

If it is only male walruses taking the tumble, it probably is mating pressure and competition.

Here’s a theory: The juvenile males are trying a sneak attack by throwing themselves onto the dominant males hoarding all the females below. (sarc)

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
September 3, 2019 3:37 pm

Yes, that’s the first coming to mind:

Rocketscientist September 3, 2019 at 7:45 am

I haven’t seen too many Mastodon cliff suicides recently,

– but bison can be stampeded into dead-falls.

And that works BOTH ways :

https://www.google.com/search?q=tourist+with+dog+tirol+cow+stomped+dead&oq=tourist+with+dog+tirol+cow+stomped+dead&aqs=chrome.

https://www.google.com/search?client=ms-android-huawei&q=bison+stampede+into+dead-falls&spell=1&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjltsXe2bXkAhW5ShUIHWtQD7MQBSgAegQICxAC&biw=360&bih=518

james feltus
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
September 5, 2019 3:38 pm

“I haven’t seen too many Mastodon cliff suicides recently, but bison can be stampeded into dead-falls.”
Ah, yes…the old “ecologically sound” Indian hunting method: “buffalo jump” a few hundred, or more, over a cliff, in order to use a relative few.

Taphonomic
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
September 3, 2019 4:11 pm

Polar bears might consider those dead walruses at the bottom of the cliff very tasty.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Earthling2
September 3, 2019 5:14 am

The Beachmaster walrus is more likely the culprit, …… with the “fleeing” underling’s only intent is to escape the wrath of “the boss”.

Mastodons are also noted for “running off cliffs”.

Bryan A
Reply to  Earthling2
September 3, 2019 2:48 pm

Too many Jacks and not enough Jills??

Rocketscientist
Reply to  Bryan A
September 3, 2019 5:40 pm

Yeah, that’s it! they were fetching a pail of water.

Greg
September 2, 2019 11:24 pm

Nice to have some dates, numbers and historical perspective. More solid information for Dr Crockford. Thanks.

Chris Gillham
September 2, 2019 11:53 pm

Has WUWT been hacked? For the past two days, most but not every time I land on the home page or click into a story like this, two new windows are generated – one telling me my Flash player is out of date and the other informing me my Mac is infected with three viruses. Obviously I don’t follow the links on these weird new pages because they have a very foul odour. It only happens on the WUWT site and about 10 times over the past couple of days.

griff
Reply to  Chris Gillham
September 3, 2019 12:32 am

Hi – I found I was getting that accessing US sites via bing/the edge browser. I updated my virus protection specifically for the browser and it has gone away (Norton)

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Chris Gillham
September 3, 2019 4:35 am

flash player goes out of date often
go to adobe direct n update in case it is a scam

and upload from mac a virus remover or CCCleaner for mac etc

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Chris Gillham
September 3, 2019 5:59 am

and the other informing me my Mac is infected with three viruses.

That “pop-up” happens to me, with my MS System 10, but only when on the WUWT website, and informing me WUWT is a dangerous website.

I have to “close out” and then re-open my Internet connection.

griff
September 3, 2019 12:30 am

What is different about the 2010s though is that ice retreats far, far away from the Alaskan and Siberian coasts, often early in the melt season.

walruses depend on floating ice over shallow water and the ice now retreats into deeper water where they can’t feed: they are now much, much more dependent on hauling out on land.

Just take a look at the median ice edge on the NSIDC daily sea ice extent chart and you’ll clearly see the difference. (The orange line on the Daily tab here: https://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index )

tty
Reply to  griff
September 3, 2019 9:12 am

“walruses depend on floating ice over shallow water”

No they don’t. I’ve seen lots of walrus up around Svalbard and they very rarely rest on ice, even when there is a lot of it around. They apparently prefer land.

And how did the the walrus that once lived on e. g. Sable Island or in Finnmark survive in areas where there is no ice?

Editor
Reply to  griff
September 3, 2019 9:19 am

Where is your evidence, Griff?

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  griff
September 3, 2019 4:27 pm

griff, smart move –

What didn’t work with Polar Bears is reversed to walruses: too little ice!

“walruses depend on floating ice over shallow water and the ice now retreats into deeper water where they can’t feed”.

Reply to  griff
September 3, 2019 4:51 pm

Griff,

US Fish and Wildlife biologists examined the evidence in 2017 and determined that recent reductions in summer sea ice were not harming Pacific walrus and were not likely to in the foreseeable future. Walrus are not threatened with extinction due to climate or anything else.

Do you have a well-reasoned argument for taking Attenborough’s word over that of scientists?

LdB
Reply to  Susan Crockford
September 4, 2019 7:21 pm

Well it supports his bias, reason enough for Griff.

September 3, 2019 12:52 am

Were any Polar bears seen in the area where the walruses were found.

I saw a video of a hungry polar bear trying and failing to isolate and kill a
Walrus . Perhaps they have figured out that causing a mob to panic and
cause some to fall over the edge.

MJE VK5ELL

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Michael
September 3, 2019 4:37 am

i wonder if seeing that hapen is how cavemen decided to chase mammoths n bison off cliffs?

Kurt in Switzerland
September 3, 2019 1:04 am

Imagine what walruses think when they see videos of humans willfully competing in X-Games, paying to watch monster truck mashups, performing death by selfie, or declaring fossil fuels evil…

Rocketscientist
Reply to  Kurt in Switzerland
September 3, 2019 8:02 am

I have a hard time imagining walruses watching videos.
People will act strangely to entertain themselves. Wildlife, not so much. I don’t see too many wild creatures risking their health to entertain themselves. If a wild creature becomes injured its risks death. A broken jaw or limb can mean starvation or predation. Very few creatures have managed to so enrich their lives with ease that they find themselves with ample leisure time and the ability to recover from reckless behavior.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Kurt in Switzerland
September 4, 2019 4:55 am
Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Kurt in Switzerland
September 4, 2019 5:02 am

Rocketscientist, playing, having fun mammals do livelong. Human adults play tennis, golf etc.

Non adults play “learning for Life.”

griff
September 3, 2019 1:10 am
tty
Reply to  griff
September 3, 2019 9:21 am

Ever being defined as starting in 2007 and only applying to that single site. Haulouts happen all year.

Gerald Machnee
Reply to  griff
September 3, 2019 9:45 am

griff – another bad reference from you.
Dr. Crockford just referenced a 1994 video and you refer to a bad article citing 2007 which also falsely blames climate change.
Start reading.

Bryan A
Reply to  griff
September 3, 2019 2:57 pm

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today confirmed that walrus are again gathering on the shores of a barrier island near the Native Village of Point Lay.

It’s the earliest walrus haul-out since it began happening in 2007, according to the federal agency.

From your own story link
It’s the earliest walrus haul-out since it began happening in 2007, according to the federal agency.
“Ever” means from 2007 (recorded at this site in the last 12 years)
For most other articles utilizing the “Scare Tactic” “ever” generally means from 1978 the beginning of the satellite era.

Phaedo
Reply to  griff
September 3, 2019 3:04 pm

No Griff. It could only be the earliest haul out on record, and the record isn’t that long.

Reply to  griff
September 3, 2019 4:58 pm

Griff,

What’s your point? I have a link to that event in my story: it’s not news to me or anyone who read the post.

“Earliest” is not a negative unless you can’t show some detrimental effect of coming ashore in late July vs. early August.

By 23 August the herd was still there, feeding and resting.

https://www.fws.gov/alaska/stories/pacific-walruses-haul-out-coast-alaska

Mike From Au
September 3, 2019 1:28 am

It is pretty bloody obvious to one who is self trained in Darwinian evolutionary theory that it is a perfect example of ‘survival of the fittest’.

Only the strongest walruses survive the cliff.

Jeff Id
Reply to  Mike From Au
September 3, 2019 6:07 am

or the bounciest!

Rocketscientist
Reply to  Mike From Au
September 3, 2019 8:17 am

Mike, its not just the fittest who survive. It’s survival of the “fit enough”. You don’t need to the strongest ,fastest or most intelligent. You merely need to fit enough to make the cut.

While there may be some benefit gained from climbing atop the cliff. (better views?, less stink?)
clearly not all of those who ascended the bluff will succumb to the fall. I might even think that some walruses had learned how to descend safely as well.

I used to be an avid rock climber who has scaled many large faces in popular tourist destinations (Yosemite Valley) but always managed the risks. While scaling the difficult portion of several shorter climbs there were invariably ill-prepared and untrained “laymen” who would either attempt to duplicate my efforts (often with disastrous results) or walk up the back side, hang their heads over the edge and ignorantly offer the suggestion that there was an easier way to walk up to the top.

My point: As with humans, there probably are some very stupid walruses, who will no longer proliferate their stupidity.

tty
Reply to  Rocketscientist
September 3, 2019 9:17 am

Definitely not better view. Walrus have extremely bad vision, at least in air, which is probably at least part of the explanation why they fall off cliffs.
If you move slowly and quietly and against the wind (they have good smell and hearing) you can approach a walrus herd very closely without being noticed.

Rocketscientist
Reply to  tty
September 3, 2019 12:57 pm

Unless you are an extremely dedicated researcher or suffering from anosmia or hyposmia, I would discourage approaching down-wind from any marine life haul-out or nesting ground.
🙂

tty
Reply to  tty
September 4, 2019 9:45 am

True, they do smell a bit, but not nearly as bad as you might expect given how big and how many they are. A Sea-Elephant rookery is much worse. Possibly this is because walrus largely live on molluscs not fish.

And not only rookeries smell fishy. In Cornwall there is a saying that in St Ives the fish smell is so bad that it causes the church clock to stop.

LdB
September 3, 2019 2:18 am

Come on we all know Disney was up there herding off the cliff like the legendary lemmings documentary they made.

Sunny
September 3, 2019 2:36 am

Ok this is the second post like this within a few days, first was the dogs walking on melt water, even though is has been happening for decades, its called “imaq” its been written about in historical texts as well.. Now to the Walruses, If they have shown the same behaviour before many decades before, then why doesn’t anybody challenge the film makers on this information? There are countless people who are terrified of all the climate change news, yet they can’t find a source of truth telling… I was very lucky to find this site, but so may are not so lucky…. Maybe its time to get of the internet, and organise in the same way the liers are, hold public meetings and give out leaflets everywhere telling the truth, then challenge the liers to open air conference’s… If they can ruin so many lives, then the factually educated people on his site and other sites can get together and save them?!

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Sunny
September 3, 2019 6:21 am

Sunny – September 3, 2019 at 2:36 am

Ok this is the second post like this within a few days, first was the dogs walking on melt water, ……………. Now to the Walruses ……

If they have shown the same behaviour before many decades before, then why doesn’t anybody challenge the film makers on this information?

Sunny, there are lots of people that “challenge” those false, ….. misguided …… and/or junk-science claims and commentaries, but the problem is, ….. they can’t get control of the “microphone”.

Another similar asinine/junk science claim is the one about …… “two (2) homosexual male penguins” …… that were observed in a zoo “sparing” to control the incubation of a penguin egg.

Guess “who” were mainly touting that silly arsed claim?

Ray g
September 3, 2019 3:57 am

I to had problem finding information to refute global warming.Now found, I sent on to plenty of friends and people in high places. If we all did the same the info may get out there so all can see and make an informed judgement.

Michael H Anderson
Reply to  Ray g
September 3, 2019 10:32 am

I couldn’t even get the good folks here to sign my change.org petition to the Canadian Prime Minister, premiers, and minister of the environment. Stalled at 37 signatures, most of them friends and family. Good luck is all I can say, because I think most skeptics, even the diehard ones, would rather joke about the situation then act on it. I’m sorry, but that’s been my experience, and it’s why my own posts seem to switch between phases of joking and despair: I don’t think we have a hope in hell of stopping the runaway train – not really. I doubt we could even find 20 people in any of our own home towns to attend a counter-protest if extinction rebellion showed up. This forum is fantastically informative, but I hate to see it devolve into just another online community preaching to the choir and congratulating ourselves on our astuteness, livened up by the occasional brain-dead troll comment or – God help us – post promoting drug abuse like we just had a few of recently.

So again, good luck to all of us, and to our children and grandchildren. My fellow Canadians elected a former ski instructor who wants a carbon tax, and I’m sure we all know that’s just the thin edge of the wedge. I’m sure I’ll lurk here once in a while, but I think realistically that my posts have no genuine effect and that my time could therefore be spent better on something else like practising my guitar. To those who are actually able to attend debates and conferences, and best of all litigate against the scum – you are the true heroes, so please keep up the good fight for our sake and for the generations to come.

Peace out, and de4th to hippies. 🙂

observa
September 3, 2019 6:56 am

Trying to work out why Walruses jump off cliffs? Sheesh I’m still trying to work out where my species is going or coming from but maybe the walruses know something I don’t-
https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/vegan-woman-demands-neighbour-stop-using-meat-on-barbecue-due-to-smell/news-story/722227ad0000e8cbf9ac8a0e8a554b95
It obviously needs to make itself useful and have a real purpose in life standing at the bottom trying to save these Walruses if it’s not too busy catching poley bears falling off skyscrapers.

Trump’s right we need more asylums for the barking mad or those qualifying under Blair’s Law-
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Blair%27s%20Law

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  observa
September 3, 2019 8:50 am

Observa – September 3, 2019 at 6:56 am

Trump’s right we need more asylums for the barking mad or those qualifying under Blair’s Law-

Well now, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is still in pretty good shape and could be put back into service if need be. Built in 1864, it is one of the largest hand-cut stone masonry buildings in the United States.

Rocketscientist
Reply to  observa
September 3, 2019 11:42 am

Sounds like she is the odd-man-out in this scenario.
Barking mad, not really, but she does seem rather unpleasant. Not a neighbor I would want, but also not one I would pay any attention to either.
I once had a neighbor that complained about leaves blowing into her yard which had to be raked up. She also had trees that were blowing leaves into neighbors properties as well, but this didn’t seem to register with her. Turns out the real issue was she had limited mobility and raking was her concern, but she didn’t know how to pleasantly ask for assistance. For the paltry sum of $5/week my son agreed to rake her leaves and all was corrected amicably.

Reply to  Rocketscientist
September 3, 2019 4:41 pm

Great solution! Wish more peope followed your example.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Shelly Marshall
September 4, 2019 4:01 am

But you are likely to be arrested for utilizing “child labor”, here in the US.

Steve Z
September 3, 2019 1:29 pm

Alpha Male Walrus to Junior: Sorry, Sonny, you’ve been voted out of my harem. Fastest way down is over the cliff. Bye!

Survivor Island, for walruses.

tty
Reply to  Steve Z
September 4, 2019 9:53 am

Sorry, but no. While walrus males fight quite a bit over access to females they don’t form harems and copulation takes place in the sea. There is little aggression between males outside the mating season.

September 3, 2019 2:42 pm

Walrus version of “Hold my beer and watch this”

Johann Wundersamer
September 5, 2019 2:10 am

Climbing up is easy. You look up and search for the next grip on the rock overhead.

To come back down you have to look down and look for the next safe step UNDER your feet.

– only then you realize how high up you came. The knees become weak, you become dizzy.

Fear of heights /agoraphobia, dizziness, panic attacks. Don’t wish that to anyone.

OTOH: It’s an interesting / however important new experience.

Johann Wundersamer
September 5, 2019 2:12 am

Climbing up is easy. You look up and search for the next grip on the rock overhead.

To come back down you have to look down and search for the next safe step UNDER your feet.

– only then you realize how high up you came. The knees become weak, you become dizzy.

Fear of heights /agoraphobia, dizziness, panic attacks. Don’t wish that to anyone.

OTOH: It’s an interesting / however important new experience.

Marv
September 5, 2019 9:25 pm

Did David Attenborough’s film crew drive walruses over the cliff? – The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)
https://www.thegwpf.com/did-david-attenboroughs-tv-crew-drive-walruses-over-the-cliff/

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