A new menace risks to destroy what remains of the delicate arctic ecosystem. Since the beginning of July the authority has started to register several cases of infection that affected the seals. Biologists are very concerned because the new disease affecting the animals could be very dangerous. The hill animals instead of swimming and eating tend to remain lying on the rocks, without any energy. The infection causes deep wounds on their skin and flippers plus weakens that bring them to death.
Until now there were already more than 46 deaths, but it is expected that at least 150 individuals have been infected. The seals are important in the Arctic food chain because they are a major source of nourishment for the killer whales and polar bears. Until now, scientists have failed to understand what are the causes of this new disease and if it can affect other species. Seals are in risk more than ever, so the local authorities should immediately stop any kind of hunt. Those who wish to do something may support the WWF that has several programs to protect the Arctic species, already threatened by global warming and the gradual withdrawal of the Arctic ice. The illness shows no signs of slowing. “Right now we’re leaning toward it being a virus, and that could weaken their immune system,” said Jason Herreman, a borough wildlife biologist studying seals and polar bears. The Department of Wildlife Management has never documented a similar outbreak in the North Slope region, Herreman said. Scientists don’t know the scope of the problem because since ringed seals are difficult to track and haven’t been counted for decades. Hundreds of thousands are thought to live in the region.