The 2015 Arctic Report Card: NOAA Failed Walrus Science!

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Jim Steele

Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University

Good scientists fully understand that complex issues with high uncertainties require two or more working hypotheses. NOAA failed to communicate the great uncertainties and alterative. Instead NOAA’s report card made claims that hinge on the unproven hypothesis that a reduction in sea ice is detrimental by denying walruses access to foraging habitat. In the Pacific the number of calves per cow increased as has calf survival, both indicators of a growing population, contradicting NOAA’s claim,. As detailed in Hijacking Successful Walrus Conservation, historical records for the Pacific walrus (Fay 1982, 1989) observed an overall increase in the use of land haulouts coinciding with increasing populations of recovering walrus. In the Barents Sea’s Svalbard archipelago, despite the greatest decline of sea ice, recent research has also observed an increased use of land haulouts…

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