The deaths took place during the late summer and fall on the Russian side of the Bering Strait, which separates Alaska from Russia.
Unlike seals, walruses cannot swim indefinitely. The giant-tusked mammals typically clamber onto the sea ice to rest, or haul themselves onto land for just a few weeks at a time.
But ice disappeared in the Chukchi Sea this year because of warm summer weather, ocean currents and persistent eastern winds, said Joel Garlach-Miller, a walrus expert for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
As a result, walruses came ashore earlier and stayed longer, congregating in extremely high numbers, with herds as big as 40,000 at Point Shmidt, a spot that had not been used by walruses as a “haul-out” for a century, scientists said.
Walruses are vulnerable to stampedes when they gather in such large numbers. The appearance of a polar bear, a hunter or a low-flying airplane can send them rushing to the water.
Schools to pay fees in socks case
SAN FRANCISCO — Officials in a Northern California school district might not think Tiggers are such wonderful things after agreeing to pay $95,000 in lawyers’ fees to five families who sued the school over its dress code.
The parents went to court after a student was disciplined for wearing socks with the “Winnie the Pooh” cartoon character Tigger on the first day of school last year.
The district’s superintendent said Thursday that the settlement money is for the plaintiffs’ lawyers; the district is also on the hook to pay the lawyers it hired.
The settlement said Redwood Middle School may no longer require students to wear only solid-color clothing.
Woman accused of 10 marriages
MIAMI — The honeymoons are over for a 26-year-old woman who authorities say has at least 10 husbands.
Eunice Lopez has been charged with bigamy, accused of marrying 10 men from 2002 to 2006 without divorcing any of them, federal immigration authorities said. The Miami Herald reported Saturday that a records search by the newspaper found seven additional marriages under the bride’s name and birth date.