As global warming causes Arctic ice to melt, the Coast Guard is working on creating new shipping lanes so vessels can safely travel through the now open waters.
The animals are unable to find enough sea ice, where they usually rest in the Arctic Ocean.
Animals and plants that depend on snow cover may be affected.
The grounding of a petroleum drilling ship on a remote Alaska island has refueled the debate over oil exploration in the U.S. Arctic Ocean, where critics for years have said the conditions are too harsh and the stakes too high to allow dangerous industrial development.
Shell Oil’s flotilla of Arctic Ocean vessels is heading for warmer waters.