Walrus cam an Internet hit
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
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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?

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/teen/walrus-cam-internet-hit/

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COMMENTS (14)
  • ShaniaWentz-Ste
    6/02/2015 - 07:54 p.m.

    I've heard of eagle cams, zoo cams, and even baby cams, but never walrus cams. However, I love the idea. It is so cool and unique. If I get the chance, I will definetly go online and watch them!

  • KiraWvA-4
    6/02/2015 - 09:42 p.m.

    A walrus camera is streaming live once again in Alaska because of generous donations to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The donations came from explore.org after Charlie Annenberg Weingarten, founder of the website, added brown bear streams to their site and Maria Gladziszewski (acting deputy director of the Wildlife Conservation Division of the Fish and Game Department) asked him whether he would be interested in using Round Island in Alaska for his walrus cam. He was delighted and now the snuffling walruses can be seen anywhere in the world when people want to. I love walruses so I like this cam idea.

  • jadie0122
    6/03/2015 - 09:29 p.m.

    I personally think that it is a little but sad that our sense of entertainment these days is a "walrus cam." There are so many things that we do on a daily basis that if we cut out the world could be a much better place. A lot of what we do as humans is not intended to be fun or joyous but that's what it has become. We spend hours on the Internet, doing god knows what and just messing around. I think that we need to apply ourselves more. Every single one of us.

  • 8koltone
    6/04/2015 - 01:07 p.m.

    Recently a webcam show started in Round Island showed walruses on and island with seabirds flying above their heads. It has recently become a hit on the internet and people have been watching it. The walrus is just a walruses but with funny reactions.

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