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Reposted from Polar Bear Science

Posted on April 14, 2019 | Feedback Off on ‘Our Planet’ movie crew remains to be mendacity about walrus cliff deaths: right here’s how we all know

Final week, I known as “contrived nonsense” on the declare by David Attenborough and the manufacturing crew of Netflix’s ‘Our Planet’ that the walruses they confirmed falling to their deaths have been victims of worldwide warming. After unbelieveable media consideration since then, newly-revealed particulars solely solidify my assertion. One thing stinks, and it’s not simply the unhealthy performing of director Sophie Lanfear within the ‘Behind the Scenes‘ trailer as she delivers her WWF-approved message: “That is the unhappy actuality of local weather change”.

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Regardless of many statements to the press, the movie crew have steadfastly refused to disclose exactly the place and after they filmed the walrus deaths proven on this movie in relation to the walrus deaths initiated by polar bears reported by The Siberian Instances within the fall of 2017.

I can solely conclude, subsequently, that the 2 incidents are certainly primarily one and the identical: that the filmmakers, in all probability alerted by resident WWF workers at Ryrkaipiy, moved in after polar bears brought about a whole bunch of walrus to fall to their deaths. The crew then captured on movie the previous couple of falls over the cliff because the walrus herd moved away from the haulout.

The lie being advised by Attenborough and the movie crew is that 200-300 walruses fell in the course of the time they have been filming, whereas in truth they filmed only some: polar bears have been accountable for almost all of the carcasses proven on the seashore beneath the cliff. That is, after all, along with the larger lie that lack of sea ice is accountable for walrus herds being onshore within the first place.

See my point-by-point evaluation beneath and make up your individual thoughts.


Walruses dying in giant numbers resulting from falls from cliff tops isn’t a brand new phenomenon related completely with diminished sea ice and neither are huge land haulouts of walrus moms and calves. Historic paperwork recorded previous to the decline of sea ice show that is true (Crockford 2014 and references therein; Fischbach et al. 2016; Lowry 1985) and the US authorities doesn’t contemplate them ‘threatened’ with extinction (MacCracken et al. 2017; US Fish & Wildlife 2017a,b).

As I’ve famous beforehand, there have been disturbing similarities between the occasion they filmed in 2017 someplace in “japanese Siberia” and one reported by The Siberian Instances at Cape Kozhevnikov close to the village of Ryrkaipiy (see photograph beneath) someday in early to mid-September 2017 through which a number of dozen polar bears spooked a small herd of about 5,000 walruses so badly that a whole bunch fell off the cliff to their deaths.

Walrus haulout at Cape Kozhevnikov close to the village of Ryrkaipiy.

Places talked about on this publish:

What we all know

Particulars on these factors within the footnotes:

The situation of the incident the place a whole bunch of walrus fell to their deaths after a herd of about 5,000 walrus was spooked by polar bears, as reported in The Siberian Instances, was Cape Kozhevnikov close to the village of Ryrkaipiy in Chukotka. The same incident involving polar bears and considerably fewer walrus occurred in 2011 (see footnote 1). In 2007, a herd of about 40,000 walrus hung out right here within the early fall and left behind an unknown variety of lifeless that attracted polar bears, see WWF account right here (pdf right here).
The situation of the Netflix cliff shoot was Cape Kozhevnikov close to the village of Ryrkaipiy and the date was 19 September 2017, see footnote 2.
In response to tweets made by cameraman Jamie McPherson, the crew of ‘Our Planet’ arrived in Chukotka to movie walrus on 14 September 2017 and left on 26 October 2017.
The situation within the ‘Our Planet’ movie of a seashore the place greater than 100,000 walrus have been hauled out was not Cape Kozhevnikov close to the village of Ryrkaipiy, see footnote three:  it might have been Cape Serdtse-Kamen, a number of hundred km east of Cape Kozhevnikov (map above), a identified haulout space for super-herds of >100,000 walrus, see footnote 1.
I used to be not the one scientist to query the filmmakers rationalization of what was occurring on the cliff: Lori Quakenbush from the Alaska Division of Fish and Recreation additionally discovered the movies claims have been scientifically doubtful, see footnote three.
Polar bears have been within the space on the time the movie footage was being shot, as ‘Our Planet’ director Sophie Lanfear has admitted.
Low-altitude aerial footage proven within the movie and the “Behind the Scenes” trailer (see footnote four, at about 1:06) suggests the crew have been utilizing drones in the course of the filming, which can have additional aggitated the walrus massed on the high of the cliff whereas the remainder of the herd was getting ready to depart the haulout.
Walrus have poor eyesight and the calls of walrus within the water as they left the haulout beneath might have brought about these on the high of the cliff to maneuver in direction of the sting the place a misstep would have been deadly, even with out being frightened.
‘Our Planet’ director Sophie Lanfear clarified within the ‘Behind the Scenes‘ trailer (see footnote four) that the walruses they filmed have been falling off the cliff as a result of the herd was leaving the haulout.
The polar bear initiated occasion reported after the actual fact in The Siberian Instances at 19 October 2017 should have occurred in early to mid-September, in any case earlier than 19 September when the movie footage was shot because the herd was shifting out.
Critically, “a number of hundred” walruses have been said to have fallen to their deaths in the course of the polar bear initiated carnage at Cape Kozhevnikov in September 2017.
‘A whole bunch of walruses’ have been additionally claimed to have fallen to their deaths throughout filming of the ‘Our Planet’ sequence (quote from Attenborough within the movie).
“There’s in all probability 200-300 lifeless walrus on like a half mile stretch of seashore right here” [shown at the bottom of the cliff, after the crew shot the falling walruses] stated cameraman Jamie McPherson within the ‘Behind the Scenes‘ trailer, see footnote four.
If there have been two separate occasions of 200-300 walruses falling off that cliff (solely one among which concerned bears), McPherson ought to have recorded virtually 600 carcasses on the seashore beneath the cliff because the herd left the haulout. However he didn’t.


We all know the ‘Our Planet’ movie crew have been in Chukotka by mid-September, maybe at Cape Serdtse-Kamen, getting ready to movie an enormous walrus haulout. I counsel that after polar bears frightened 200-300 walruses over the cliff to their deaths at Cape Kozhevnikov in early to mid-September, the movie crew have been alerted by WWF workers stationed at  Ryrkaipiy concerning the incident.

The movie crew briefly moved to Cape Kozhevnikov and proceded to shoot footage of maybe a number of dozen extra walruses falling of the cliff onto the 200-300 carcasses already current on the backside, because the herd ready to maneuver off because of the disturbance. The variety of falling walrus might have been exacerbated by way of drones and/or human exercise across the haulout, however appear largely to have been missteps taken by aggitated animals keen to hitch their fellows within the water. I counsel additional that polar bears making an attempt to feed on the carcasses have been briefly chased away by the WWF polar bear patrol earlier than the crew started filming, which is why they’d folks watching to alert them ought to the bears return.

The lie being advised by Attenborough and the movie crew is that 200-300 walruses fell in the course of the time they have been filming, whereas in truth they filmed only some: polar bears have been accountable for almost all of the carcasses on the seashore beneath the cliff. That is, after all, along with the larger lie that lack of sea ice is accountable for walrus herds being onshore within the first place.

The crew and WWF can present I’m incorrect by offering proof of the place the Netflix movie footage was shot, the place the haulout of >100,000 walrus was positioned, and the date in 2017 when the polar bear initiated walrus deaths at Cape Kozhevnikov occurred. In that case, I’ll amend this publish accordingly.


1. From ‘Pacific walrus coastal haulout database, 1852-2016 (see additionally Fischbach et al. 2016):

Cape Schmidt [Ryrkaipii; Ryrkaipiy; Mys Shmidta; Cape Kozhevnikov; Utios Kozhevnikov], with information of  ‘at the very least 10,000, lower than 100,000’ walrus in haulouts

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Haulout Description: Rocky slopes and seashore on japanese each side of the Utios Kozhevnikov cliffs and adjoining spit 700 meters north of the settlement of Ryrkaipii. “Utios Kozhevnikov” is official identify from Russian geographical maps and is a part of Cape Schmidt. One other settlement, Cape Schmidt, lies four km to the east of this haulout. “Ryrkaipiy” means the “restrict of walrus shifting” within the Chukchi language.

Historic Use: Arsen’ev (1927) famous Cape Schmidt as a big haulout ultimately of 19th century or start of the 20th century. In the course of the early 1930’s a big city settlement was constructed close to the positioning of the haulout, which can have contributed to the shortage of noticed haulout use till Kavry and others (2008) be aware the formation of a giant haulout of extra 40,000 walruses in September of 2007 (Kochnev 2012). Thereafter (2007 -2014), common use has been reported, although not yearly, with counts approaching 50,000 (Semenova and others 2010, Kochnev 2012, Pereverzev and Kochnev 2012, Maksim Deminov written communication and photograph 2014).

The haulout has been utilized by each grownup males and by females and younger, with the females and younger changing the grownup males on the haulout because the season progresses from August by October (Semenova and others 2010, Pereverzev and Kochnev 2012). General, the age-sex composition is about 10% male, just like the Wrangel Island haulouts. In the course of the 2011 haulout giant variety of walruses of calves of the yr and older age lessons of each sexes have been discovered lifeless (n = 123), and the deaths have been attributed to each trampling and falls down steep rocking slopes, with polar bears enjoying a job (monrintoing [sic] assist offered by TINRO and ChukotTINRO, Pereverzev and Kochnev 2012, Kochnev 2012).

Cape Serdtse-Kamen: with information of ‘greater than 100,000’ walrus in haulouts [this is the only one in the database]

Haulout Description: Distinguished cape Location 110 km northwest of the Bering Strait. Map location is middle of haulout by mouth of river, 5 km southwest from the cape. Throughout peak utilization, the haulout extends over roughly 30 km of shoreline from the cape to the southeast (Kochnev 2010b).

Historic Use: Use previous to 1927 is famous by Arsen’ev (1927). Nikulin (1941) famous use by walruses in 1937. Frequently use by walruses in ice-free autumns throughout the entire 20th Century as much as the current (Belopl’skii 1939, Grachev and Mymrin, 1991; Zheleznov-Chukotsky and others, 2003; Kochnev, 2010b, unpublished knowledge).

Use was famous in the course of the 1960, 1964, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990 aerial surveys (Fedoseev, 1966; Gol’tsev, 1968; Fedoseev, 1981; Estes and Gol’tsev, 1984; Fedoseev, Razlivalov, 1986; Gilbert and others 1992). In early October of 1975 Estes and Gol’tsev (1984) used extrapolation from aerial and density estimates to enumerate between 9 and 12 thousand walruses. The 1990 aerial survey indicated greater than 12 thousand walruses on 30 September (Gilbert and others, 1992).

Estimates from 97,000 to 115,000 walruses of combined age and intercourse lessons are famous in October of 2009 and 2011 (Kochnev, 2010b; Chakilev and others, 2012; Kochnev 2012). Residents from Enurmino and Inchoun indicated that the exceptionally giant haulout documented throughout 2009 and 2011 might have shaped equally giant within the years of sea ice shortage previous to the 2009 monitoring effort (Kochnev, 2010b). In the course of the 2011 monitoring effort, mortalities (n=120) attributed to trampling was famous that disproportionately affected youthful animals (Kochnev 2012).

2. Andrew Montford has defined that photographs of the jagged cliff face from the movie match completely with archived photographs of the cliff face of Cape Kozhevnikov close to the village of Ryrkaipiy (at Cape Schmidt) close to the village of Ryrkaipiy. Additionally, EXIF photograph metadata present that the footage was shot on 19 September 2017.

three. ‘Our Planet’ director Sophie Lanfear admitted to Ed Yong at The Atlantic that footage from two totally different places have been spliced collectively within the walrus movie, maybe giving the impression that the cliff haulout was a part of the seashore the place over 1000,000 walruses have been hauled out. She has up to now refused to say which seashore haulout they used for filming, however it’s clear from remarks shared with varied information retailers that the crew spent nearly all of seven weeks at that location [my bold].

“…the seven-person Our Planet staff filmed one of many largest haul-out websites—a single seashore the place 100,000 walruses tessellate right into a stable purple mat of tusks and blubber. The animals arrived virtually in a single day, whereas the staff slept in a cramped hut. …

The walruses collect “out of desperation, not out of selection,” David Attenborough says over the ensuing footage. “A stampede can happen out of nowhere. Below these circumstances, walruses are a hazard to themselves.” And they also climb “to seek out house away from the crowds.”

Because the walruses unfold throughout the seashore, some begin heading up a shallow slope, which curves right into a steeper escarpment, which finally culminates in 260-feet cliffs.

…Our Planet attracts a straight line between local weather change, sea-ice loss, greater haul-outs, overcrowding, climbing walruses, and falling walruses. “It isn’t a traditional occasion,” says Lanfear. “It’s such a tangible, apparent factor to indicate folks. It’s clear as day.”

…Lanfear clarifies that the sequence contains footage from two separate seashores—one with the 100,000-strong congregation and one with the falls. On the latter, walruses began climbing solely as soon as the realm beneath the cliffs had utterly crammed up; gregarious or not, they’d no room. As soon as on the high, they rested for just a few days, and walked off solely after the seashores beneath had emptied. Certainly, because the narration suggests, the sounds of their departing comrades might have lured the cliff-top walruses off the sting. “They appeared to all wish to return to the ocean to feed as a bunch,” Lanfear says.”

The haulout seashore might have been Cape Serdtse-Kamen, a number of hundred km east of Cape Kozhevnikov, the one location throughout the vary of Pacific walrus that haulouts of >100,000 animals have been recorded (Fischbach et al. 2016 database, see footnote 1). Such giant herds have been documented in 2009 and 2011, making it a sexy location for filmmakers intent on dramatic footage of heaving lots of walrus.

Additionally, in accordance with The Atlantic I used to be not the one scientist to query the filmmaker’s interpretation of what was occurring on the cliffs:

However just a few walrus scientists who noticed the clip have questioned components of this narrative—together with the declare that walruses are climbing “to seek out house away from the crowds.”

“Walruses thrive on crowds and haul out in tight teams, even when house is on the market,” says Lori Quakenbush from the Alaska Division of Fish and Recreation.

Additionally, within the sequence, it appears to be like as if the seashore beneath the teetering walruses is comparatively empty. What crowds are they escaping from?

four. ‘Behind the Scenes’ trailer:


Crockford, S.J. 2014. On The Seashore: Walrus Haulouts are Nothing New. The World Warming Coverage Basis Briefing 11, London. Additionally obtainable right here

Fischbach, A.S., Kochnev, A.A., Garlich-Miller, J.L., and Jay, C.V. 2016. Pacific walrus coastal haulout database, 1852–2016—Background report: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1108. http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161108. The web database is discovered right here.

Lowry, L. 1985. “Pacific Walrus – Increase or Bust?” Alaska Fish & Recreation Journal July/August: 2-5. pdf right here.

MacCracken, J.G., Beatty, W.S., Garlich-Miller, J.L., Kissling, M.L and Snyder, J.A. 2017. Remaining Species Standing Evaluation for the Pacific Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens), Might 2017 (Model 1.zero). US Fish & Wildlife Service, Anchorage, AK. Pdf  right here (eight.6 mb).

US Fish and Wildlife Service 2017a. Press Launch (four October 2017).

US Fish and Wildlife Service 2017b. Endangered and threatened wildlife and crops; 12-month findings on petitions to listing 25 species as endangered or threatened. Federal Register 82:46618-46645.

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