Scientists have for the first time to estimate the number of Atlantic walruses in the southeastern part of the Barents Sea, where a number of companies planning to start production of oil and gas at 2.2 thousand individuals, non-governmental organization said Marine Mammal Council.
"Today, thanks to research, it was possible to estimate the number of walruses in the south-eastern part of the Barents Sea by 2.2 thousand. 2012 was a landmark for research walrus found in the Barents Sea," — said in a statement.
As noted by the Board, until recently the knowledge of these animals have been blank for scientists.
"Thanks to the work of the expedition, organized by the Council on marine mammals, were found on the shore walrus rookeries Kolguev and Vaigach, first install a satellite tag on the Atlantic walrus subspecies in the Russian part of its range," — added the scientists.
The researchers note that counts walruses involved not only professional observers, both local inhabitants of coastal villages, workers polar weather, showing the relation to the surrounding nature.
Oil or walruses
Meanwhile, in the habitat of this large population of walruses number of companies planning to start oil and gas production, which may result in oil spills, said Program Manager Oil & Gas Environmental Policy of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia Alexei Knizhnikov.
"Action is needed to remove the threat or minimize spills. As shown by simulation of oil spills, using available resources and rescue companies fail to protect the most valuable parts of the coast included in the Nenets Reserve, where the key walrus rookeries," — told RIA Novosti Knizhnikov .
However, he believes that environmentalists have managed to establish a dialogue with the oil companies.
"All companies except" LUKOIL ", which has recently distanced itself from the interaction of reason, regularly participate in the meetings of the Expert Group on the Conservation of walruses. Regarding oil spill, we have agreed with the companies that they will offer a set of actions that will provide greater protection for these valuable areas ", — concluded the scribes.
Atlantic walrus — a unique view of the Barents Sea Ecoregion. These pinnipeds mammals listed in the Red Book of Russia. Of particular concern is an acute shortage of specialist information on population — not the number of walruses or their exact habitat is still unknown. There are only scraps of information about the rookeries brought scholars of the few expeditions, and stories of local inhabitants of the coast.