Cameras Recording Walrus Habitat

Written by on December 17, 2012 in Marine Life, Technology
Walrus gathered on sea ice.

Walrus gathered on sea ice. Photo credit T.Sullivan, NOAA.

Researchers have developed a camera system designed specifically to map the surface topography of Arctic sea ice.

Using data collected from a two-month expedition in the Arctic, the University of Delaware (UD) research team is reconstructing polar ice floes in 3D. They used data collected from three cameras–installed directly on the German research vessel Polarstern–two of which worked like human eyes. The reconstruction will help the team identify ideal walrus habitats.

“This type of information has never been recorded before,” said lead researcher Chandra Kambhamettu, professor of computer and information sciences.

Walrus require sea ice for reproduction, migration and resting habitat. As sea ice melts and continues to recede, walrus are facing increasing danger. They travel slowly on land and if the ice floes are too large, they may become prey for polar bears; if the floes are too small, the ice will not support them.

“Without good metric data about ice floes and sea ice thickness, among other things, we can’t really classify habitat,” explained Scott Sorensen, a doctoral student at UD.

According to Kambhamettu, the data could be used for additional purposes:

  1. used as a database of habitat information to be used by other scientists
  2. provide others with information about polar regions and the difficulties faced by local wildlife
  3. provide insight on the dangers of opening transoceanic shipping lanes where sea ice has melted
The R/V Polarstern in Scoresby Sund, Eastern Greenland.

The R/V Polarstern in Scoresby Sund, Eastern Greenland. Photo credit Hannes Grobe.

To learn more:

Walrus resting on sea ice.

Walrus resting on sea ice. Photo credit: NOAA.

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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