Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Sea Mammals of the Russian Arctic

Walrus, Beluga Whale, Fin Whale, Grey Whale and three species of seal were among the mammals seen during out Heritage Expeditions trip to the Russian Arctic. This walrus was on Herald Island.
We had some impressive walrus haul-outs, both on the mainland of the Chukotka Peninsula and on Koluchyin and Herald islands. While we were at Koluchyin, Chukchi hunters killed a walrus after harpooning it and tying it to floats attached to their boat.
While most walruses are killed for their meat, unfortunately it is becoming increasingly common for animals to be slaughtered solely for their tusks, which are used to make ivory artefacts. We found several carcasses like this one, where the head had been removed and the meat left to rot.

We saw dozens of Belugas in Anadyr Harbour, one of the best places in the world to see this white Arctic whale. The animals can be seen in the shallow sea as your plane comes in to land.
This Spotted Seal was also in Anadyr Harbour. Further north above the Arctic Circle, Ringed and Bearded Seals were present in small numbers but most were with the pack ice, much further north again as it has been a particularly warm season this year.
We had good numbers of Humpback Whales, including a pod of 20 about the boat at one time in the company of 2 Fin Whales.
Grey Whales were also common in places, but difficult to get a decent shot of. 

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