Walruses have become the new symbol of climate change, courtesy of David Attenborough’s new Netflix documentary series Our Planet. The second episode aired vision of the hulking mammals jammed on a remote Russian coastline due to lack of sea ice on which to rest, the crowded conditions sending dozens tumbling to their deaths over a cliff’s edge.
The sight of walruses falling through the air, of their bloodied bodies littering the rocks below, stirred controversy due to its graphic nature.
But now there’s another debate. This time, over claims the entire scene was a lie.
In a scathing blog post being quoted by various media, zoologist Susan Crockford, adjunct assistant professor at the University of Victoria in Canada, described the scene, filmed in northeast Russia, as “tragedy porn” and “contrived nonsense”.
“The walruses shown in this Netflix film were almost certainly driven over the cliff by polar bears during a well-publicised incident in 2017, not because they were ‘confused by a combination of shrinking ice cover and their own poor eyesight,'” she wrote.
She pointed to a Siberian Times news article that refers to an event in the region of Ryrkaypiy, Russia, around the time the footage was recorded, in which a group of about 20 polar bears reportedly “stalked a herd of 5,000 or so walruses” and drove them over cliffs so they could feed on carcasses below.
But there’s an important point to know before buying into her argument: Crockford is a climate-change denier. That is, she doesn’t agree that humans are responsible for driving global warming.
Mamamia OutLoud discuss the climate change tragedy happening right on Australia’s doorstep. Post continues after audio.