Reading Two: Ice-edge dwellers

Reading Two: Ice-edge Dwellers

seal.jpgImpact: Habitat disintegrating
Ice-dependent seals like the ringed seal, ribbon seal and bearded seal give birth and nurse their pups on the ice. They make their lairs out of snow on top of the ice. If there is not enough snow cover, they will have difficulty rearing their young. If the ice breaks up too early, pups can be separated from their mothers and drown. The seals also use the ice to rest.

Impact: Difficulty getting food
Walrus depend on the sea ice to find food. The edge of the ice is an area rich in plant and animal life. The most productive areas are over the shallow water nearest to the coasts. Walrus can use the ice to rest and then dive down to the bottom to eat clams and other shellfish that grow there. When the ice edge retreats away from the shallow areas, there will be fewer clams nearby for the walrus to eat.

Some sea birds like ivory gulls and little auks also depend on the ice to find food. The ivory gull nests on rocky cliffs near the ocean and then flies to the nearby sea ice to fish through cracks in the ice and scavenge for food left on top. If the sea ice retreats too far from the coast the birds have difficulty getting enough food.

Impact: Competition from newly arrived species
Inuit people report seeing new animals they have never seen before. These animals are expanding northward as the climate warms and now compete with native Arctic species for food and habitat.


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