Web Cams Provide Unprecedented Live View of Round Island Walrus Mecca
- ADF&G Press Release

Sam Cotten, Commissioner
P.O. Box 115526
Juneau, Alaska 99811-5526

Press Release: May 22, 2015

Joe Meehan, Statewide Coordinator, Lands and Refuges Program, (907) 267-2281
Jason Damata, (917) 279-8706, jason@fabricmedia.net

Web Cams Provide Unprecedented Live View of Round Island Walrus Mecca

(Round Island) — On this tiny island in north Bristol Bay, walruses from as far away as Russia gather as they have for thousands of years. And now, viewers around the world can watch the ivory-tusked, 2-ton sea mammals go about their summer routines, thanks to a live camera installation from philanthropic media organization explore.org and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

While females and calves spend summers at the Arctic ice pack’s edge to the north, male walruses congregate, or “haul out,” on Round Island by the thousands. Centerpiece of the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary, the walrus viewing area was set to close to visitors this year due to budget shortfalls. Thanks to a grant from explore.org founder Charles Annenberg Weingarten, along with funds from several private donors as well as federal funds, Round Island will remain open through mid-August as in previous years.

“We are honored to bring people up close to observe the walrus in their natural habitat,” said Weingarten. “And we are thankful for the opportunity to partner with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to preserve this wonderful pearl of our planet.”

Explore.org worked with department staff to establish four cameras along the island’s most popular haulouts. Department staff stationed on Round Island will contribute blogs and provide context to viewers watching remotely at explore.org/walrus via live chats and within the comments section of the cam pages.

“These cams help us extend our mission of conservation and education,” said Division of Wildlife Conservation Acting Deputy Director Maria Gladziszewski. “We are thrilled to share our work with a larger community of people and grateful to explore.org for the opportunity.”

The new cams are part of explore.org’s Pearls of the Planet initiative, a portfolio of live video feeds from around the world to help people everywhere deepen their connection to nature and reflect on their role in it.

“When people are inspired to fall in love with the world again, they are more likely to be better stewards of the planet,” said Charlie Annenberg, founder of explore.org and vice president of the Annenberg Foundation. The foundation is underwriting the live cams and a team of cam operators and bloggers to help educate people on these and other species.

Round Island visits require access permits, available for five-day overnight camping or day use. Prospective Round Island visitors can purchase camping or day-use permits in advance online. Access permits can be purchased through the department’s web store at: https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/Store/. To learn more about visiting Round Island see the department’s web pages at: http://walrusislands.adfg.alaska.gov/.