Friday, September 28, 2007

Baby Walrus at the New York Aquarium

© WCS/Julie Larsen Maher

The New York Times today ran an article, complete with pictures, about the baby walrus born earlier this summer at the New York Aquarium. The public watched with joy as he made his first public appearance, taking a swim with his mother in one of the aquarium's larger viewing tanks.

From the NY Times online I hopped over to the New York Aquarium's website. At the present time they are running a video banner of the calf and his mother frolicking in a shallow pool of water. There's also an article on the calf's birth and his parent's history. Still following the trail of hyperlinks on the NY Aquarium's site, I found this page with a fascinating baby book of photos as well as videos. You can even go to the Today Show's website and vote for a name for the little fellow!

Contrast this happy story to the much sadder report published April 15, 2006 by the Washington Post that tells of a sighting of nine walrus calves swimming in deep water with mothers nowhere in sight. Biologists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said the walrus babies swam around their vessel crying for the entire 24 hours they were in the vicinity. Young walruses generally live on a shelf of ice close to shore and are rarely separated from their mothers during their first two years of life. Scientists postulated that perhaps a storm had separated the babies from their mothers -- but more likely was the theory that their ice shelf melted in the unusually warm waters.

Ironically, today's NY Times also reported on an international conference in Washington DC on climate change during which President Bush proposed an international fund to finance clean energy projects in developing countries. Sounds good on the face of it, but reading the article more closely you'll see that Bush thinks steps can be taken to halt global warming without giving up profits. He doesn't think strong legislation or international treaties are necessary either. Quoting the Times article: European delegates, in particular, rejected the administration’s insistence that any plan to reduce emissions be voluntary and devised by individual nations rather than as a part of a worldwide treaty. One European representative... called the meeting a “game” played by the administration to slow momentum toward an international pact. So the political games continue, while arctic ice flows melt and arctic wildlife dies.

Help! How did I get here? I tried to write a nice post about a cute walrus calf and ended up thinking about global warming. Argh! We must all do what we can to make legislators hear us on issues of global warming. We can write letters, sign petitions, and give money. For example, the NY Aquarium and the Bronx Zoo are both part of the Wildlife Conservation Society. We could contribute to their work on behalf of all wildlife - including arctic animals - by clicking here.

At the same time, however, let's not permit our concern over this issue to deny us the simple pleasure that comes from seeing a young, protected walrus calf take his first swim. If you haven't done so already, take a few minutes to hit all the NY Aquarium links above and savor each picture. Better yet, go on out to Brooklyn (if you live in NYC) and see the little fellow.

© 2007, Linda Mason Hood
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