Alaska: Arctic Ice Seals Found Dead, US Government To Investigate

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Officials reported approx. 300 Arctic ice seals found dead on Alaska beaches. The NOAA reported that the ice seals die-off an 'unusual mortality event'.

Written By Bhavya Sukheja | Mumbai | Updated On:
Alaska

Approximately 300 Arctic ice seals are found dead on Alaska beaches since last summer as reported by the federal officials. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the ice seals die-off an 'unusual mortality event', a designation which the administration use allows extra resources that helps them determine the cause. According to the reports, 282 seal carcasses have been found since June 2018. However, the carcasses only account for a small fraction of the total number of dead seals, as the majority of stricken animals would sink after dying or they never make it to the shore. 

The reason behind the die-off

The seal's die-off as the temperature of the Arctic Alaska Sea is usually high. The condition of the sea is affected by global warming which caused an increase of heat-trapping greenhouse gas in Earth's atmosphere. The warm condition is possibly seen as one of the reasons behind the die-off. The dying of ice seals has affected bearded seals and ringed seals which are also considered to be endangered species. All three species depend on floating sea ice for resting, pup rearing and other important life functions. Reportedly there are seals which have appeared to be undernourished as well. 

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Biologists are reportedly also testing for toxins in the animals which may have ingested from algae blooms. The algae blooms are usually grown due to warm conditions and the Bearing Sea has seen rising temperature since late 2013 as reported by a climatologist with the International artic Research Center at the University of Alaska. 

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Gray whales

According to the investigation done by the biologists, a mass die-off of Gray Whales along the US West Coast can also be seen. The NOAA reports suggest that 212 dead gray whales have been found in the Pacific waters from Mexico to Alaska out of which 44 have been found in Alaska itself. The population of gray whales feeds mostly during the Arctic summers in the Bering and Chukchi seas off northwestern Alaska. The warming seas have reportedly disrupted the food chain and is preventing the whales from eating enough in Alaska waters. The whales are having a tough time to sustain themselves through migration. 

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