Posts Tagged ‘extinction’

Melting Arctic sea ice drives walruses onto land

August 25, 2011

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
WASHINGTON | Wed Aug 17, 2011 4:52pm EDT
(Reuters) – Original article here

Photo Credit: Liz Labunski/USFWS

Fast-melting Arctic sea ice appears to be pushing walruses to haul themselves out onto land, and many are moving around the area where oil leases have been sold, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

Walruses are accomplished divers and frequently plunge hundreds of feet (meters) to the bottom of the continental shelf to feed. But they use sea ice as platforms to give birth, nurse their young and elude predators, and when sea ice is scarce or non-existent, as it has been this summer, they come up on land.

Last September, the loss of sea ice caused an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 walruses to venture onto land, and as sea ice melts reached a record last month, U.S. government scientists are working with Alaskan villagers to put radio transmitters on some of the hauled-out walruses to track their movements around the Chukchi Sea.

“The ice is very widely dispersed and there is little of it left over the continental shelf,” researcher Chad Jay of the U.S. Geological Survey said in a statement on Wednesday. “Based on our tracking data, the walruses appear to be spreading out and spending quite a bit of time looking for sea ice.”

The loss of sea ice puts Pacific walruses at risk, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but other, higher-priority species will get attention first. In February, the wildlife service listed Pacific walruses as candidates for protection, though not protection itself.

Walruses are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which means these animals cannot be harvested, imported, exported or be part of interstate commerce.

Polar bears, which also use sea ice in the Chukchi Sea as platforms for hunting, have been designated as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act because of declining sea ice in the Arctic.

Compared to last year’s massive haul-out, there are few walruses on land, and there is no solid count, Jay said.

“There is a lot less ice than there used to be on the continental shelf this time of year,” he said. “So we might be headed into a new normal.”

Transmissions from the radio-tagged walruses offer a good picture of where these creatures are in the Chukchi Sea in a U.S. Geological Survey graphic updated approximately weekly.

SHRINKING ARCTIC SEA ICE

Available online here , the graphic shows where the walruses were when they were first tagged (shown as red Xs) and how they moved around the water (shown as yellow dots).

The graphic also shows changes in sea ice cover in the far north, indicating nearly ice-free conditions in areas where the walruses are moving. Many are within the boundaries of an oil lease sale area that stretches along the northwestern Alaska coast and far into the Chukchi Sea.

Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips and Statoil hold leases in the Chukchi Sea, though no drilling has started.

Last month saw Arctic sea ice drop to its lowest extent — meaning that it covered the smallest area — for any July since satellite records began in 1979, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. Typically, Arctic sea ice hits its lowest extent for the year in September.

This record-low ice extent for July is lower than July ice extent in 2007, when ice extent shrank in September to its smallest area in the satellite record.

(Editing by Sandra Maler)

Svalbardlomvi -New species on the Red List

November 16, 2010

Original article (in norwegian) here

Det er færre polarlomvier både på Bjørnøya og på Spitsbergen. (Foto: Hallvard Strøm/Norsk Polarinstitutt)

(Line Nagell Ylvisåker/Svalbardposten, 12 November 2010) — The Svalbardlomvi (polar guillemot) is a new addition to “Norwegian Red List of Species 2010” which was published Tuesday [9 November]. Svalbard population has declined dramatically in recent years. 71 Svalbard species are classified as Red List species in the new list of Biodiversity Information. Five of them are new on the list that was last updated in 2006. Polar guillemots are one of them. “The polar guillemot has had a relatively sharp decline in population both on Spitsbergen and Bear Island,” says bird researcher Halvard Strøm at the Norwegian Polar Institute. He served on the expert group that worked with the Red List. The size of the polar guillemot population has decreased the last five to ten years. “The sharp decline indicates that there are things that we must be aware of,” said Strøm. Scientists are now trying to figure out what has caused the Svalbard population decline. “The reason may be changes in food supply, both on Svalbard and in winter quarters,” said Strøm.

Sami languages disappears

February 24, 2010

Barents Observer 2010-02-19

Two Sami women on the Kola Peninsula.The world’s smallest language, Ter Sami, is only spoken by two persons. Also, Ume Sami and Pite Sami will not last long.

According to Pravda, there are only two people left speaking Ter Sami, a Sami dialect spoken in villages in the eastern part of the Kola Peninsula. In the end of the 19th ventury, there were six Ter Sami villages, with a several hundred inhabitants. Now, there are some 100 ethnic Ter Sami in the area, of whom only two elderly persons speak the original languages. The rest have shifted to Russian.

The Sami languages are also challenged in the southern part of the Barents Region. In, Sweden there are only some 10 people who can still speak the Ume Sami, traditionally a Sami language spoken on the course of the Ume River.

Also Pite Sami, traditionally spoken on both the Norwegian and Swedish side of the border in the Arjeplog area, is a dying language. According to Wikipedia, there are only some twenty native speakers left and only on the Swedish side of the border.

In Finland, a severe lack of teachers could threaten the future of Sami people in the north, YLE News reports this week.

A study carried out at the University of Oulu says that an investment is needed in training Sami language teachers and other educators who speak the language. It suggests that teacher training be organized at one of the universities in the north of the country and in Sami-speaking areas.

It calls for special attention to be given to the future of the languages spoken by the Inari Sami and the Skolt Sami, YLE News reports.