Arctic drone footage shows thousands of walruses

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Thousands of walruses gathered together here in the Arctic Circle - an area where their habitat is under threat from shrinking ice.

A meet-up like this is called a 'haulout' - where vast numbers of walruses gather to reproduce and socialize.

On the shores of the Kara Sea in northern Russia, scientists say they counted 3,000 of the animals last month,

Aleksander Sokolov is a senior researcher from the Arctic Research Station.

"They are fascinatingly interesting animals. When you lay there with thousands of them and you are between them - they speak to each other, communicate, argue, may be they exchange words of love. I seem to romanticize it but this is exactly what it looks to me."

This is, however, also an area where their habitat is in trouble.

Scientists say warmer climate cycles mean sea ice, where walruses traditionally haulout, is shrinking, and that they are threatened from oil and gas exploration and more Arctic shipping.

"The global warming and melting of ice in the global ocean, in the Arctic Ocean where the ice is getting thinner and it forms later and melts away earlier - all of it can not but affect the walruses."

It's estimated there are 12,500 adult Atlantic walruses left in the world.

They were, at one time, overhunted for blubber and ivory - but commercial hunting was banned last century.

Local researchers say, though, that this large number of Atlantic walruses is a positive sign, as it shows their population is recovering.

But, they say, there is too little information for now to draw sweeping conclusions from those numbers.

Video Transcript

- Thousands of walruses gathered together here, in the Arctic Circle, an area where their habitat is under threat from shrinking ice. A meet-up like this is called a haulout, where vast numbers of walruses gather to reproduce and socialize. On the shores of the Kara Sea in northern Russia, scientists say they counted 3,000 of the animals last month. Aleksander Sokolov is a senior researcher from the Arctic Research station.

INTERPRETER: They are fascinatingly interesting animals. When you lay there with thousands of them, and you are between them, they speak to each other, communicate, argue, but maybe they exchange words of love. I seem to romanticize it, but this is exactly how it looks to me.

- This is, however, also an area where their habitat is in trouble. Scientists say warmer climate cycles mean sea ice, where walruses traditionally haulout, is shrinking, and that they are threatened from oil and gas exploration, and more Arctic shipping.

[SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

INTERPRETER: The global warming, and the melting of the ice in the global ocean, in the Arctic Ocean, where the ice is getting thinner, and it forms later and melts away earlier. All of it affects the walruses.

- It's estimated there are 12 and half thousand adult Atlantic walruses left in the world. They were, at one time, over hunted for blubber and ivory, but commercial hunting was banned last century. Local researchers say, though, that this large number of Atlantic walruses is a positive sign, as it shows their population is recovering. But, they say, there is too little information for now, to draw sweeping conclusions from those numbers.