After a 10-year hiatus, the Walrus Cam is back online

Male walruses.
A male adult walrus can weigh two tons. And now you can see a whole bunch of 'em in action on the new walrus cam. Photo: Flickr

With "Mad Men" over and Fast and Furious 8 not slated until 2017, you're probably looking for some viewing fun that you can enjoy today. We're with you and have very good news. Call it Slow and Slovenly, Part Deux: After a 10-year hiatus, the Walrus Cam is back online.

The cam went offline in the mid-aughts when funds were depleted and the budget line was not renewed. But thanks to cash infusion from a nonprofit run by the Annenberg Foundation, Explore.org, streaming footage of the two-ton beasts that belch, sleep, wrestle and roll on the beaches of Round Island, Alaska, is back.

It's the walrus version of spring break.

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Followed by a winter hanging on the ice of the Bering Sea, presumably bumping some Barry White and making sweet walrus love, the males and females go their separate ways. The adult females and their calves head to the Chukchi Sea, a few hundred miles north, to forage for food and nurse. The adult males migrate to protected land in Bristol Bay, which is part of the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary.

Some of the fellas come from as far away as Russia, a long journey the species has taken for thousands of years. There are between 2,000 and 3,000 males on this small island according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and some experts believe the streaming footage helps in many ways.

"These cams help us extend our mission of conservation and education," says Division of Wildlife Conservation Acting Deputy Director Maria Gladziszewski. "We are thrilled to share our work with a larger community of people and grateful to explore.org for the opportunity."

Watching one of the four cams located along the island's most popular walrus hangouts is more relaxing than two Xanax and half bottle of pinot. When these mammals move about, it's in silly slow motion. Even keeping the window open on your computer provides the calming sounds of the waves interrupted by weird walrus sounds that are equal parts heavy-breathing Darth Vader, angry Chewbacca and a mellow Midwest cadence.

Load of walruses.
The new Walrus Cam has a button on it that lets you take a screenshot and save it or share it to your social network of choice.

And it's impossible not to smile when you see them sleeping in an asymmetrical side-by-side puppy pile, most of them on their backs, flippers moving irregularly, making you wish you could see what they're dreaming about. (We have a hunch those REM movies are a mix of fish and lady walruses).

Call it anti-anxiety therapy for folks who can’t afford a co-pay. And don't be surprised if you catch yourself singing a certain Beatles tune. Kukucachoo!

The new cams are part of explore.org’s Pearls of the Planet initiative, a portfolio of live video feeds from around the world that include penguins, puffins and the only sure thing on the interwebs, kittens.

"When people are inspired to fall in love with the world again, they are more likely to be better stewards of the planet," says Charlie Annenberg, founder of explore.org and vice president of the Annenberg Foundation.

Want to check out the walruses in person? Round Island visits require access permits, available for five-day overnight camping or day use, which can be purchased in advance online through the Fish and Game web store.To learn more about visiting Round Island, see the department's web page.

There's some sobering news, too, however. According to TakePart.com, walruses traditionally live on the ice, even in summer. Since Arctic sea ice is melting more quickly and receding farther each summer, even the northernmost walruses post up on dry land that was typically covered in ice. Last October saw the sixth-lowest extent of summer sea ice ever recorded in the Arctic.

At this rate, those walruses will be on the shores of climate-change deniers soon, and that’s a cam battle that will be better viewing than Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.

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