- Genus/species: Odobenus rosmarus
- Conservation status: Near Threatened.
- Location: Arctic Circle
The walrus is found on ice floes and the rocky remote coastlines of the Arctic Circle. Walruses have large and elongated bodies and their tough, wrinkled skin is covered by a layer of sparse, coarse hairs. They have two pairs of flippers which they use to propel themselves quickly through the water. They are clumsy on land where they move about awkwardly on all fours. Their most remarkable features are their long tusks that are used for both fighting and to dig into the ice when they are pulling their heavy bodies out of the water.
Walruses can be up to 11 feet long- as long as a small car and some of them can weigh up to 3000 lbs, which is almost the weight of a small car! Male walruses are almost double the weight of females and have much longer tusks. Walruses hunt and eat other animals. They have a thick moustache containing roughly 450 very sensitive whiskers that help them to find food in the dark and murky waters at depths of around 300 feet below the surface. They find almost all of their prey on the ocean floor and are especially fond of sea bottom dwellers such as clams, tunicates, fish, squid, and octopus.
Walruses are hunted by humans and also threatened in certain areas by water pollution including oil contamination. Walruses have been declining in number since the 18th century and now they are becoming increasingly threatened by the lessening amount of ice due to global warming.
Did You Know?
- Walruses anchor their tusks into the ice so they are able to sleep while their bodies remain submerged beneath the waves.
- Walruses feed in the darkness of the ocean floor and are known to commonly dive to depths of up to 328 feet for nearly half an hour at a time.
- Male walruses have special air sacs that they use to make a bellowing sound.
- About two-thirds of a walruses life is spent in the water.