Walrus, also called morse, is a seal-like mammal found in Arctic seas. There are two subspecies: the Pacific walrus and the Atlantic walrus. Male Pacific walrus are slightly more giant, with longer tusks.
The long-tusked and mustached walrus is most often found near the Arctic Circle, lying on the ice with dozens of friends.
Here are six fun facts about walrus
- Pacific and Atlantic Subspecies: The two subspecies of walrus are separated geographically. Atlantic walruses occupy coastal areas from Greenland to northeastern Canada. In contrast, Pacific walruses occupy the northern seas of Alaska and Russia, relocating seasonally from their southern extent in the Bering Sea—where they are seen on the pack ice in wintertime—to the Chukchi Sea. Female Pacific walruses give birth to calves during the spring immigration north.
- Features: The walrus’s grayish skin is 1–2 inches thick, with thick folds around the joints. The surface is covered with small reddish hair, giving the animals a cinnamon color. The walrus has a rounded head, little eyes, and no visible ears. Its muzzle is short and wide and has a distinct mustache of hard, quill-like whiskers vibrissae. The male, which attains a maximum width and weight of about 12 feet and 3,700 pounds, is about a part bigger than the female. Both males and females maintain long tusks that extend downward from the mouth. In the male, they can grow to about a meter in length and 12 pounds. The tusks are mainly used in mating display and resistance against other walrus. They also use these tusks to help them pull themselves out of the sea and onto the ocean ice.
- Feeding Habit: The walrus’s diet consists mainly of mussels and clams but sometimes includes fish. They have an opportunistic and diverse diet, dining on more than 60 species of marine animals, including shrimp, tube worms, crabs, tunicates, soft corals, and sea cucumbers.
- Adaptability: The walrus’ other unique characteristics are equally valuable. As their preferred meals, especially shellfish, are located near the darkened ocean floor, walruses use their remarkably sensitive whiskers as detection devices. Their blubbery skin allows them to live happily in the Arctic region—walruses are also able to slow their heartbeats to resist the extreme colds of the neighboring waters.
- Mother’s love: A walrus mother will pick her baby up with her flippers and hold it to her heart if it’s scared, diving into the water with it to escape predators. Walruses don’t produce many babies, so they need to defend their offspring.
- Conservation: In the mid-1900s, the population of walruses was almost zero because of commercial hunting, but the community was brought back to an increasing number in the 80s. At present, the Russian Knipovich Polar Research Institute and the US Geological Survey are simultaneously engaging a walrus population study. Using infrared imaging, they discover walrus groups hauled out on sea ice. High-resolution photography allows researchers to determine group numbers. They also use satellite telemetry to calculate the section of the population visible during counts.