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Uploaded on Tuesday 21 Feb 2012 by GRID-Arendal

Marine mammals in the Arctic

Year: 2010 Author: Riccardo Pravettoni, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
Seven species of marine mammals live in the Arctic year-round – the bowhead whale, beluga whale, narwhal, ringed seal, beaded seal, walrus, and polar bear - and many more migrate to the Arctic seasonally. Many marine mammals aggregate in specific areas across the Arctic, for example to feed, or for whelping, pupping or moulting. A common feature of marine mammals in the Arctic is that they are associated with sea ice, although the ecological relationship between sea ice and a species varies. On-going declines in sea ice is likely to lead to changes in the sea-ice ecosystem towards a sub-Arctic ecosystem, and will affect marine mammals in a number of ways both on land and at sea. For example, those species that are most strongly linked to sea ice may retreat to sea ice refugia across the Arctic. There will be increased competition (and predation) from invasive temperate species. Marine mammals will also affected by an increase in human activities like shipping and exploitation of natural resources in areas previously inaccessible due to ice.
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