August 1, 2015
Atlantic Walrus Range and Habitat research
The Marine Mammal Council researchers together with the WWF experts thoroughly examined the Atlantic walrus haulouts as part of the 2015 Interdisciplinary Arctic Expedition. The largest haulout, a habitat of 900 walruses, has been discovered at Cape Bolshoy Lyamchin Nos. Satellite tags have been installed on eight animals, which allows to track the pinnipeds’ location online and to study their migration paths.
Varvara Semyonova, the expedition participant and project coordinator at the MMC: “We have been tracking the walruses on Vaygach Island for three seasons in a row. The results indicate that the walruses inhabit a moderate-sized territory between Novaya Zemlya and Vaygach Island as well as the islands of the Nenetsky state natural reserve. We should consider it when developing the region, particularly during prospecting, extraction and shipping hydrocarbons.”
Last year the experts managed to install 10 satellite tags; some of them stood up for three months.
The research obviously needs to be continued. 2015 expedition discovered new haulouts, collected genetic samples to define connections among various walrus communities, continued working on the migration paths research, and assessed the red-listed animals’ health status.
These data will ultimately form the basis of strategies, which aim to ensure rangewide conservation in the face of active Arctic development.