Walrus Research Projects

Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus) are an important subsistence and cultural resource for coastal people of western Alaska and they are an important component of the Bering and Chukchi seas ecosystem. Our walrus research projects focus on walrus movements, habitat use, demographic monitoring, health, and behavior related to disturbance. We work with the Eskimo Walrus Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey to develop and implement study plans. Our studies rely on working with subsistence hunters and their communities to collect and analyze samples from harvested walruses to monitor their status and health. We work with hunters to tag walruses with satellite transmitters in order to learn about walrus movements, habitat use, and haulout and dive behavior.

  • Village-based Walrus Habitat Use Studies in the Chukchi Sea
    Pacific walruses are an important subsistence species for many coastal communities. The extent to which walruses migrate through major oil and gas exploration and development areas is poorly understood. Working with Alaska Native subsistence hunters, we have cooperatively deployed satellite tags, conducted behavioral observations at terrestrial haulouts, and collected traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) on Pacific walruses in the Chukchi Sea. Data collected will allow comprehensive analyses of movements, distribution, and behavior of walruses in the Chukchi Sea.
  • Traditional Knowledge Reports
    We conducted Traditional Ecological Knowledge interviews, documenting local knowledge of marine mammals near coastal villages.