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35,000 Walrus Come Ashore in Northwest Alaska

In this aerial photo taken on Sept. 23, thousands of walrus gather on the northwest coast of Alaska. Pacific walrus looking for places to rest in the absence of sea ice are coming to shore in record numbers, according to NOAA. Corey Accardo / NOAA via AP

Pacific walrus that can't find sea ice for resting in Arctic waters are coming ashore in record numbers on a beach in northwest Alaska. An estimated 35,000 walrus were photographed Saturday about 5 miles north of Point Lay, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Point Lay is an Inupiat Eskimo village 300 miles southwest of Barrow and 700 miles northwest of Anchorage.

The enormous gathering was spotted during NOAA's annual arctic marine mammal aerial survey, spokeswoman Julie Speegle said by email. The survey is conducted with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the agency that oversees offshore lease sales. Walrus gathering on shore is a phenomenon that has accompanied the loss of summer sea ice as the climate has warmed.

Image: In this aerial photo taken on Sept. 27, 2014, some 35,000 walrus gather on shore near Point Lay, Alaska
In this aerial photo taken on Sept. 27 some 35,000 walrus gather on shore near Point Lay, Alaska. Corey Accardo / NOAA via AP
— The Associated Press