Bearded seals dwelling in the icy waters between Alaska and Russia will remain protected under the Endangered Species Act after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an attempt to reverse that status Monday.
The Trump administration is seeking to reopen offshore Arctic areas that were closed to oil and gas leasing by the Obama administration, as well as almost all federal waters off Alaska.
The Department of Interior's draft five-year national leasing plan, released on Thursday, proposes 19 Alaska lease sales — three in the Chukchi Sea, three in the Beaufort Sea, two in Cook Inlet and one each in 11 other regions, some of which have never had any lease sales.
The Obama administration in late 2016 took most federal Arctic waters off the table for oil and gas leasing. That administration placed the entire Chukchi Sea off-limits and all but a 2.8-million-acre strip of territory relatively close to shore in the Beaufort Sea.
Months after dozens of walruses and thousands of birds died in mysterious circumstances in the Bering Sea, scientists have discovered a clue in the case: positive test results for algal toxins associated with warm waters. Four walruses and five seabirds were carrying saxitoxin, an algal biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning. Whether the saxitoxin contributed to the deaths is unknown and unlikely to be determined, but it is a sign of changes in the Bering Sea, where waters are now warmer than they were in the past and where sea ice has been running at record lows for this time of year, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Beaufort Sea polar bears are spending more time on land — and becoming more exposed to land-based diseases, scientists find
Polar bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea are spending more time on shore as Arctic sea ice diminishes — and are increasingly exposed to disease pathogens associated with land animals as a result, according to newly published research. The first documented signs of the polar bears' exposure came from measures of antibodies in the animals' blood.