Global environmental challenges
Wildlife gone wild? Walruses, sharks, butterflies and orange goo
Walruses have started hauling themselves out of the waters of the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast — not as many as were seen last September, but enough for scientists to want to track where they go. Researchers see this behavior as a sign that there’s not enough Arctic sea ice for the big, swimming mammals to use as resting platforms after deep dives searching for food. It’s another indication of climate change, according to scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey.
Sharks attacked two people in the Sea of Japan off the Russian coast, an extremely rare occurrence. Some wildlife experts figured the sharks headed to the area from the tropics, venturing into northern waters which have become warmer in recent years. The sharks may have migrated to the area following fish stocks or squid.
Butterflies and moths are among hundreds of kinds of plants and animals on the move due to climate change, according to scientists. One type of British butterfly has shifted from central England to Scotland — it’s warm enough up north now to sustain it. In Borneo, moths migrated up the slopes of Mount Kinabalu — just 220 feet upward, but for a moth on a mountain, that’s a lot.
Orange goo that washed ashore in remote Kivalina, Alaska, turned out to be fungal spores and not microscopic eggs as originally thought, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It also wasn’t oil or other human-made pollution, as Kivalina residents first reckoned.
Photo credits: U.S. Geological Survey (Scientists radio-tag walruses in the Chukchi and Bering seas to better understand their movements and foraging behavior, undated photo)
University of York (An Atlas moth found in the foothills of Mt Kinabalu in Borneo, with I-Ching Chen, author of a wildlife study published in the journal Science, undated photo)