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Tuesday, November 09, 2021


by Martin Elster

In recent satellite imagery captured by Planet, which operates the world's largest pack of Earth-observing satellites, large groups of walruses can be seen crowding Earth's coastlines, all the way from space. The image shows ambiguous, "distinctive red-brown" blobs decorating the Alaskan coastline. Previously, walruses would gather in groups of up to many thousands, called "haulouts," on Arctic sea ice far from the shore. But with sea ice melting at rapid speeds due to climate change, they have no choice but to gather on land. —, November 5, 2021

Thousands of walruses (called “haulouts”) gather
along Alaskan shores, spotted from space.
They’re resting ample bodies, but they’d rather
veg out on sea ice. Yet there’s not a trace
of frozen H2O. A satellite 
has taken photographs. How can they eat
or sleep now? Humans may create a fright.
Many will perish in their mad retreat,
tumbling en mass to the safety of the ocean.
Monitoring their populations might
show how, through climate change, they may persist.
Yet when at last they’re gone, will they be missed?
These mammals know this world is not all right.
These mammals know there is no magic potion.

Martin Elster, who never misses a beat, was for many years a percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra (now retired). He finds contentment in long woodland walks and writing poetry, often alluding to the creatures and plants he encounters. A full-length collection, Celestial Euphony, was published by Plum White Press in 2019.