Tue. Nov 12th, 2019

‘Our Planet’ movie crew continues to be mendacity about walrus cliff deaths: right here’s how we all know

Reposted from Polar Bear Science

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

Final week, I referred to 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 had 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 dangerous 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”.

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, most likely alerted by resident WWF staff at Ryrkaipiy, moved in after polar bears precipitated 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 throughout the time they had been filming, whereas in actual fact they filmed just a few: polar bears had been accountable for almost all of the carcasses proven on the seaside beneath the cliff. That is, in fact, 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 personal thoughts.


Walruses dying in massive numbers as a consequence of falls from cliff tops shouldn’t be a brand new phenomenon related solely 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 “jap Siberia” and one reported by The Siberian Instances at Cape Kozhevnikov close to the village of Ryrkaipiy (see picture beneath) someday in early to mid-September 2017 wherein 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 submit:

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. An identical 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 accordance with 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 seaside the place greater than 100,000 walrus had been hauled out was not Cape Kozhevnikov close to the village of Ryrkaipiy, see footnote three:  it could 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 clarification of what was occurring on the cliff: Lori Quakenbush from the Alaska Division of Fish and Sport additionally discovered the movies claims had been scientifically doubtful, see footnote three.
Polar bears had 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 had been utilizing drones throughout the filming, which can have additional aggitated the walrus massed on the high of the cliff whereas the remainder of the herd was making ready to depart the haulout.
Walrus have poor eyesight and the calls of walrus within the water as they left the haulout beneath could have precipitated these on the high of the cliff to maneuver in the 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 had 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 transferring out.
Critically, “a number of hundred” walruses had been said to have fallen to their deaths throughout the polar bear initiated carnage at Cape Kozhevnikov in September 2017.
‘Lots of of walruses’ had been additionally claimed to have fallen to their deaths throughout filming of the ‘Our Planet’ sequence (quote from Attenborough within the movie).
“There’s most likely 200-300 lifeless walrus on like a half mile stretch of seaside 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 in all which concerned bears), McPherson ought to have recorded virtually 600 carcasses on the seaside beneath the cliff because the herd left the haulout. However he didn’t.


We all know the ‘Our Planet’ movie crew had been in Chukotka by mid-September, maybe at Cape Serdtse-Kamen, making 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 had been alerted by WWF staff stationed at  Ryrkaipiy in regards to the incident.

The movie crew quickly 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 could have been exacerbated by way of drones and/or human exercise across the haulout, however appear principally to have been missteps taken by aggitated animals keen to hitch their fellows within the water. I counsel additional that polar bears attempting to feed on the carcasses had been quickly chased away by the WWF polar bear patrol earlier than the crew started filming, which is why that they had 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 throughout the time they had been filming, whereas in actual fact they filmed just a few: polar bears had been accountable for almost all of the carcasses on the seaside beneath the cliff. That is, in fact, 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 fallacious 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 submit 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 data of  ‘not less than 10,000, lower than 100,000’ walrus in haulouts

Haulout Description: Rocky slopes and seaside on jap 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 transferring” within the Chukchi language.

Historic Use: Arsen’ev (1927) famous Cape Schmidt as a big haulout in the long run of 19th century or start of the 20th century. Throughout 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) word 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 via October (Semenova and others 2010, Pereverzev and Kochnev 2012). Total, the age-sex composition is about 10% male, just like the Wrangel Island haulouts. Throughout the 2011 haulout massive variety of walruses of calves of the yr and older age lessons of each sexes had been discovered lifeless (n = 123), and the deaths had been attributed to each trampling and falls down steep rocking slopes, with polar bears enjoying a job (monrintoing [sic] assist supplied by TINRO and ChukotTINRO, Pereverzev and Kochnev 2012, Kochnev 2012).

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

Haulout Description: Outstanding 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. Recurrently use by walruses in ice-free autumns throughout all the 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 throughout 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 massive haulout documented throughout 2009 and 2011 could have fashioned equally massive within the years of sea ice shortage previous to the 2009 monitoring effort (Kochnev, 2010b). Throughout 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 picture 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 completely different areas had been spliced collectively within the walrus movie, maybe giving the impression that the cliff haulout was a part of the seaside the place over 1000,000 walruses had been hauled out. She has to this point refused to say which seaside haulout they used for filming, however it’s clear from remarks shared with varied information shops that the crew spent the vast majority of seven weeks at that location [my bold].

“…the seven-person Our Planet staff filmed one of many largest haul-out websites—a single seaside 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. Beneath these circumstances, walruses are a hazard to themselves.” And they also climb “to search out house away from the crowds.”

Because the walruses unfold throughout the seaside, 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, that they had no room. As soon as on the high, they rested for a couple of days, and walked off solely after the seashores beneath had emptied. Certainly, because the narration suggests, the sounds of their departing comrades could have lured the cliff-top walruses off the sting. “They appeared to all need to return to the ocean to feed as a bunch,” Lanfear says.”

The haulout seaside could 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 massive herds had been documented in 2009 and 2011, making it a horny 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 a couple of walrus scientists who noticed the clip have questioned elements of this narrative—together with the declare that walruses are climbing “to search out house away from the crowds.”

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

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

four. ‘Behind the Scenes’ trailer:


Crockford, S.J. 2014. On The Seaside: Walrus Haulouts are Nothing New. The World Warming Coverage Basis Briefing 11, London. Additionally accessible 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 & Sport 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. Last 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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