(Red Orbit, 19 June 2009) -- A partial estimate of Pacific walruses puts their minimum population at a mere 15,164, but researchers admit that the count probably missed some of the animals. The estimate, made public Thursday, only includes animals in half of the walrus habitats in the Bering and Chukchi seas and does not include those who were swimming. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted the count in reaction to a court deadline insisting that the agency outline the marine mammal stocks most hurt by commercial fishing. "We're still working on the final population estimate," said Suzann Speckman, a wildlife biologist with the agency, to the Associated Press. A 1990 aerial survey projected the walrus population to be at 201,039. Pacific walruses are normally found in the two seas surrounding the west coast of Alaska. Walruses normally live on the Beaufort Sea next to Alaska and the East Siberian Sea on the Russian side. Fish and Wildlife Service officials have been counting since 2006 along with their fellow Russian officials by using thermal imaging. The current deadline for the release of the full count is January 2010, Speckman said.
Posted 21 June 2009; 11:52:11 AM. Permalink