Easily identified by their size and distinctive tusks, they are one of the largest and most recognizable members of the Pinnipeds – which include seals and sea lions. A common resident of the Arctic range, the Walrus.
Found in both the northern Pacific regions of Alaska and Russia and in the Atlantic regions of northeastern Canada and Greenland. Male Pacific Walruses can weigh up to 4,000 lbs. (1,800 kg) while females range between 800 and 3,000 lbs. (350 – 1350 kg), the Atlantic Walruses are slightly smaller.
Both males and females have the familiar tusks which can grow up to 3 feet (1 meter) in length. These extra large teeth are used somewhat like ice picks to help haul themselves onto ice flows as well as used to establish dominance. Their scientific name, Odobenus rosmarus, means “tooth-walking sea horse.”
The walrus’ skin, which is covered with short hairs, becomes paler and pinker with age but also appears pale when swimming in the icy waters as skin blood vessels contract.
Walruses can stay underwater for 10 minutes during their dives to find clams – one of their favorite foods. They may eat as many as 6,000 clams in a single feeding, using a powerful suction force. As they reach the sea floor they may squirt powerful jets of water to uncover burrowing invertebrates among the gravel.
Since visibility may be poor in the murky waters, walrus use their whiskers – called vibrissae – to feel around the rocky sea bed to find the tasty mollusks. They may have between 400 and 700 vibrissae on their snout, giving them their signature mustache look.