Walrus cam an Internet hit Walruses on a beach, recorded by a robotic camera on Round Island, Alaska (AP photo / Thinkstock)
Walrus cam an Internet hit
Lexile

A popular webcam showing large male Pacific walruses lying on the beach with a number of seabirds flying overhead is once again streaming to the Internet.

The high-definition stream from Alaska's remote Round Island had been dormant for nearly a decade after private funding ran out, but a version is back now, thanks to a philanthropic organization that operates a series of nature webcams from around the planet. The walrus cam, part of the Pearls of the Planet series, can be viewed at: http://explore.org/live-cams/player/walrus-cam-round-island.

A monetary grant from explore.org, along with other donations this year, have had an unintended benefit for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The funds are allowing the Alaska state government struggling financially because of low oil prices to put two paid staff members on the island about 400 miles southwest of Anchorage to not only welcome the handful of visitors it gets every year, but also to help prevent boats or aircraft from spooking the 2-ton walruses and sparking a stampede.

If the donation hadn't come through, Round Island would have been closed to visitors this year.

"It was just serendipity," said Charlie Annenberg Weingarten, vice president of the Annenberg Foundation and founder of explore.org. "I would have done it anyway, but this is really a cherry on top, knowing we were able to assist them in furthering their research, their love of their work and be able to share with the people."

The state Department of Fish and Game worked with a private donor in 2005 to stream images from Round Island, part of the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary. The feed was sent over the Internet and featured at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, another donor this year, where it was widely popular with visitors.

But operational problems with the camera and a lack of funding eventually doomed the project.

Maria Gladziszewski, the acting deputy director of Fish and Game's Division of Wildlife Conservation, said the state had discussed looking for another partner.

It wasn't an active search until explore.org added the brown bear cams from Alaska's Katmai National Park and Preserve.

"I thought, 'Gee, I wonder if they'd be interested in doing a walrus cam?'" she said.

Gladziszewski called and found out Weingarten had always intended to feature walruses. "It was fortuitous and we were off trying to make it happen," she said.

Weingarten said walruses are as majestic as the brown bears that inhabit Katmai, but for most people, they are even less accessible.

Round Island, which can only be reached by an hours-long boat ride from hub communities in southwest Alaska, had just 42 visitors last year. Only five of those camped out overnight in the primitive conditions.

The four Round Island webcams allow up-close views of walruses that few people ever see in person.

"To be able to capture a walrus, not just 'a' walrus but a herd of walrus on a beach is beyond description," Weingarten said.

Up to 14,000 of the tusked mammals haul out on the island while the females are off raising their pups.

"It's important to show people and showcase what is out there," Gladziszewski said.

"This is an incredible resource to have and very, very difficult to get to," she said. "And to show people, from Bristol Bay to their desk in Indiana or wherever, it's an incredible opportunity."

Critical thinking challenge: How did brown bear cams affect walrus cams?

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COMMENTS (14)
  • Johnsooe
    6/01/2015 - 07:00 p.m.

    Answering 5 w's: The who in this article is Walrus's. The what is a camera that is recording the life of these walrus's. The where is on an island in Alaska. The when is now. The why is to observe the lives of these walrus's.

  • NW2000Bball
    6/02/2015 - 08:40 a.m.

    I understand why the walrus cam went viral because who doesn't like to see what cool animals like a walrus do in a day to day basis. I think they should have more cameras for more cool animals to record and show people who are interested in learning new things about their animal that they're watching.

  • L.E 1999 blue
    6/02/2015 - 08:48 a.m.

    That's really cool that people put cameras on animal so we can see how they live. Its really cool that w can see what animals do every day and what they do on there free time what they do to catch food and hoe they and what they do with there baby and how they react when there is as predator around to do something to there baby.

  • JordanBGreen
    6/02/2015 - 11:55 a.m.

    This is so cool that we can actually see live walruses close up and online I may actually try this myself just because I've never seen a live walrus up close and now I can.

  • ChrisRRojo
    6/02/2015 - 11:56 a.m.

    When a Walrus is more popular than you. Wow an I thought it wouldn't happen, I am quite surprised of this article even though it is very interesting.

  • Ashleya-Lam
    6/02/2015 - 01:22 p.m.

    Walruses are indeed majestic creatures and I am truly ecstatic that there will be a walrus cam. I along with many of my peers are walrus enthusiasts and we're just elated by this opportunity to see such marvelous creatures in their natural habitat. May I just stress again how truly brilliant this idea is. Thank you Obama for this chance to get in touch with Mother Nature's glorious creations!

  • Alexc-Lam
    6/02/2015 - 01:30 p.m.

    I am very happy that a walrus cam is being put on this island. Although Obama had nothing to do with it I think he would also support this movement. I wish I could visit that island for real instead of just a camera.

  • JaydonJBlack
    6/02/2015 - 01:41 p.m.

    I love animals. Do you think they have other water animal cams. They are my favorite type especially because I am most interested in water species.

  • Noah M Blue
    6/02/2015 - 01:48 p.m.

    I like that people pay this much attention to animals and see what they see. now people can see from the perspective of different kinds of animals.

  • Lewiss-Lam
    6/02/2015 - 02:33 p.m.

    I think that walruses would be sort of fun to watch on the internet. They are large, look a bit dumb, and actually fight each other for territory. Some people would find the fighting as "Whoa!!! Did you see that?" and others view it as "Oh no!!! Why are they fighting? That doesn't look to helpful." But yeah, it would be fun to see some walrus all over the internet, live as a mosquito.

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