SEATTLE - The Coast Guard icebreaker Healy departs Thursday for the Bering Sea carrying scientists to study the retreating ice in the Bering Sea.
The mission will study how disappearing sea ice affects the small animals on the sea floor that are consumed by walruses. Declining food supply may be a reason to list walruses for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The Seattle-based cutter will carry other scientists on another National Science Foundation mission this spring to study the entire Bering Sea ecosystem, the Coast Guard said.
Overall, the Coast Guard said the Healy will spend six months this year in the northern polar region.