By DAN JOLING
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Federal biologists are investigating the deaths of at least 60 ice seals along Alaska’s west coast.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says bearded, ringed and spotted seals were reported dead Monday in Norton Sound south of Nome.
A hunter counted 18 carcasses along 11 miles of shore north of the village of Kotlik. This same hunter reported dozens seals along an island near Stebbins.
North of the Bering Strait, a National Park Service biologist counted six dead seals near Kotzebue’s airport.
NOAA Fisheries also received accounts of up to 30 dead seals between Kivalina and Point Hope. Eight young bearded seals were found Monday on St. Lawrence Island.
The cause has not been determined.
The agency says ice seals are an essential resource for Alaska Native communities.