Scientists finish stage two of walrus rookery research at Cape Kharasavey in the Kara Sea
Field studies last October showed that most walruses do not leave Baydaratskaya Bay, meaning that they reside in the Kara Sea. This data was obtained by a group of scientists from installed sensors.
The research is carried out by a team of scientists: Alexander Sokolov, senior researcher at the Arctic Research Station of the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology at the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Andrei Boltunov, General Director of the Marine Mammals Research and Expeditionary Center; and Maksim Tolstoy, engineer of the RAS Shirshov Institute of Oceanology.
Detailed calculations based on drone images in October 2022 showed that a maximum of 4,133 walruses came ashore at a time. This is one and a half times higher than in the previous year when more than 2,000 heads were counted.
“Despite the fact that walruses separate – males settle separately from females with cubs – Yamal walruses continue to come to Baydaratskaya Bay of the Kara Sea together: males, females and cubs. This is a unique phenomenon,” the statement on the Yamal Government website reads.
This year, specialists counted the number of the largest, mature males and calves that are still feeding on their mother’s milk for the first time: each category makes up about six percent of the total number of walruses. The rest are young animals, including females.
The herd of walruses occupies a limited area of the water: about 50,000 sq km. The core of the most popular water area is about 6,000 sq km off the western coast of the Yamal Peninsula.
The results of genetic analysis confirm that Yamal walruses have a relatively independent history. Toxicological analysis suggests that the nature and composition of the accumulated persistent organic pollutants differ from the composition of the accumulated pollutants of their Pechora relatives.
Experts studied the historical data about the presence of walruses on the peninsula. The Yamal walruses have survived several ice ages and a period of intensive fishing in the Barents Sea.
Work is underway to create a specially protected territory at the mouth of the Tiutei-Yakha River. This will ensure the safety of the endangered population.