The final research cruise of 2021 in the Bering and Chukchi seas came through the region in November.
An “off-the-shelf” look implies the trash was dumped recently and close to the shore.
Subsistence users across the region are feeling the impacts of the die-off.
NOAA says the debris may have been released in one place and time.
Most of the dead birds have been murres or horned puffins, and residents say they’re finding far fewer murre eggs.
The fall whaling season in Utqiagvik didn’t happen last year — veteran whalers said they had never gone that long without seeing a bowhead whale near Point Barrow during that time.
Winter storms and blustery weather buffeting the Bering Sea this month have reduced sea ice coverage by almost 25% since late January. Sea ice in the Bering Sea is typically solid and stable this time of year, but scientists and communities are observing large areas of open water, and where there is ice, much of it is shifting.
To many, ivory means dead elephants wasting away in the sun. “What they don’t see is walrus ivory, legal harvest, food on the table, economic benefit to rural Alaskans,” says biologist Gay Sheffield.