Animals, Environment

Alaskan Walruses In Danger

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Walruses with large tusks.
Image: The image of these Alaskan walruses was taken by an employee at NOAA, the US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Walruses in Alaska are coming off the ice floes and onto the shore, in the tens of thousands.

The sea ice they normally rest on has melted. On the shores of Alaska, the walruses are now packed shoulder to shoulder, for more than a kilometre.

This is very unusual behaviour for walruses, although it has happened twice before — last year and in 2007 — when the Arctic sea ice was at record low levels.

The U.S. government is now doing some research to figure out if walruses should be put on the endangered species list.

In the meantime, they are changing the flight patterns of planes that fly overhead, so they don’t spook the walruses. And they’re watching the animals to make sure they don’t crush each other in their crowded condition.

Normally at this time the females would be resting on sea ice and diving down to the sea bottom for clams and worms. But since there’s not enough sea ice, they’re forced to stay on shore.

Scientists don’t know how long the walruses will be on the shore, but they say there should be enough food for all of them.


Writing/Discussion Prompt

Scientists are puzzled about why so many walruses have come to the shore. If you were a scientist, what test would create to find the answer?

Reading Prompt

When readers read, they often focus on big and important words, not the little ones. This helps readers concentrate on what’s important.

Let’s prove this point. With your pencil, underline all of the words with three letters or less in this paragraph. The most important words are usually bigger than the smaller ones!

Scientists don’t know how long the walruses will be on the shore, but they say there should be enough food for all of them.


Automatically read and understand most high-frequency words, many regularly used words, and words of personal interest or significance, in a variety of reading contexts (OME, Reading: 3.1).


Automatically read and understand most words in common use (OME, Reading: 3.1).

Grammar Feature: Proper Nouns

A proper noun is another way of saying “name”.  So, it may not surprise you that all proper nouns are written with capitals. Today’s article includes two examples of this: Alaska and Arctic sea.

Write the proper nouns belonging to five people you would like to meet or five places you would like to travel to. Be sure to use a capitals!