UAA film documents climate change impacts on Alaska animals
A new film by researchers at the University of Alaska Anchorage documents how warmer temperatures are affecting animal behavior on a remote island in Bristol Bay. "A Place Like No Other" premieres in UAA's planetarium Friday and offers its audience a multi-dimensional experience.
"We used a special camera, set up to get the full 360 degrees," explained Travis Rector, the film's executive producer. "And it gives you the sensation of what it's like to actually be there in these remote places where we filmed."
Rector was a lead researcher on the four-day excursion to Round Island, part of the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary. UAA was invited to film on location by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
While the Pacific walrus is not listed as an endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services has noted the ongoing loss of sea ice in the walrus' range and the species does receive protection under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Rector said the film crew saw how the population has changed on Round Island:
What we learned was the number of walrus there has actually decreased dramatically over the years. Back in the 70s there would be as many as 14,000 walrus on the beach on a single day. And when we were there, that number was around 2,000. So the natural question is, well why is that? And it looks like the reason is is that as the climate has warmed, there is less sea ice further south. So walrus have not been coming to Round Island as much and hauling out in other places.
Through the narrated film, the team hopes to share their observations with the greater public.
"We really wanted Alaskans to get to know these places that they wouldn't otherwise go to," said Paola Banchero, screenwriter for the documentary. "And then we also wanted to explain climate change and provide some solutions so that people in Alaska understand what's happening in their own community, but that they also understand that there are ways to solve it."
"A Place Like No Other" premiers Friday in UAA's planetarium. The premiere is sold out, but another showing is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 20. For ticket information, go to UAA's online ticket office.
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