The name of the walrus means “tooth walker”. Even in the presence of a free area, a herd of walruses does not disperse along the coastline, but keeps cumulatively, just as they dive together into the water. O. rosmarus rosmarus In relation to relatives, walruses are more peaceful than other seals. The largest single herd of walrus in Canada has about 5,000 members. [4] They rut from January through April, decreasing their food intake dramatically. Where do walruses live? [26], Aside from the vibrissae, the walrus is sparsely covered with fur and appears bald. The Russian Atlantic and Laptev Sea populations are classified as Category 2 (decreasing) and Category 3 (rare) in the Russian Red Book. [17] The Atlantic subspecies weighs about 10–20% less than the Pacific subspecies. Killer whales regularly attack walruses, although walruses are believed to have successfully defended themselves via counterattack against the larger cetacean. Indeed, most marine biologists think they use their massive chompers just to eat clams and other shellfish. Walruses are pinnipeds, which classifies them in … [62] There have been isolated observations of walruses preying on seals up to the size of a 200 kg (440 lb) bearded seal. [87][88], Walrus ivory masks made by Yupik in Alaska, John Tenniel's illustration for Lewis Carroll's poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter", Dutch explorers fight a walrus on the coast of Novaya Zemlya, 1596. [10], The coincidental similarity between morse and the Latin word morsus ("a bite") supposedly contributed to the walrus's reputation as a "terrible monster". The blubber layer beneath is up to 15 cm (6 in) thick. [24] Walrus milk contains higher amounts of fats and protein compared to land animals but lower compared to phocid seals. The archaic English word for walrus—morse—is widely thought to have come from the Slavic languages,[9] which in turn borrowed it from Finno-Ugric languages. They winter over in the Bering Sea along the eastern coast of Siberia south to the northern part of the Kamchatka Peninsula, and along the southern coast of Alaska. Since walruses have few natural predators, they don't really have to worry about being eaten while they slumber either. Pacific walruses live in the northern seas near Russia and Alaska. Because of its distinctive appearance, great bulk, and immediately recognizable whiskers and tusks, the walrus also appears in the popular cultures of peoples with little direct experience with the animal, particularly in English children's literature. Pregnancy lasts one year. Name Game. [74] Commercial walrus harvesting is now outlawed throughout its range, although Chukchi, Yupik and Inuit peoples[75] are permitted to kill small numbers towards the end of each summer. [78], Hunter sitting on dozens of walruses killed for their tusks, 1911, Walrus tusk scrimshaw made by Chukchi artisans depicting polar bears attacking walruses, on display in the Magadan Regional Museum, Magadan, Russia, Trained walrus in captivity at Marineland, Walrus being fed at Skansen in Stockholm, Sweden, 1908, Walrus hunts are regulated by resource managers in Russia, the United States, Canada, and Denmark, and representatives of the respective hunting communities. Although Carroll accurately portrays the biological walrus's appetite for bivalve mollusks, oysters, primarily nearshore and intertidal inhabitants, these organisms in fact comprise an insignificant portion of its diet in captivity. During the winter months when the ice is at its thickest, Walruses tend to prefer areas of thinner ice that they can easily break through to the surface from the water underneath. [3] The Atlantic walrus also tends to have relatively shorter tusks and somewhat more flattened snout. [65] Walruses may occasionally prey on ice-entrapped narwhals and scavenge on whale carcasses but there is little evidence to prove this. Males aggregate in the water around ice-bound groups of estrous females and engage in competitive vocal displays. [91], 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T15106A45228501.en, "Use of spectral analysis to test hypotheses on the origin of pinnipeds", "Phylogeny and divergence of the pinnipeds (Carnivora: Mammalia) assessed using a multigene dataset", 10.1671/0272-4634(2006)26[411:ANMOMC]2.0.CO;2, "State of Circumpolar Walrus Populations : Odobenus rosmarus", "A new tuskless walrus from the Miocene of Orange County, California, with comments on the diversity and taxonomy of odobenids". Scientists estimate 200,000 of these giant pinnipeds (the seal family) live in the Chukchi and Bering seas between Alaska and Russia. The walrus is the only living species in the family Odobenidae and genus Odobenus. There are 2 sub-species of walruses, Atlantic and Pacific. What are walrus mating rituals like? [50] This population was nearly eradicated by commercial harvest; their current numbers, though difficult to estimate, probably remain below 20,000. Seasonal migrations of walruses are very short: in winter they move to the south, but only a few hundred kilometers, which is not enough for such animals. O. rosmarus laptevi (debated). Since a walrus's hide usually accounts for about 20% of its body weight, the total body mass of these two giants is estimated to have been at least 2,300 kg (5,000 lb). The walrus relies on this ice while giving birth and aggregating in the reproductive period. [32], The rest of the year (late summer and fall), walruses tend to form massive aggregations of tens of thousands of individuals on rocky beaches or outcrops. While there has been some debate as to whether all three lineages are monophyletic, i.e. [82] Reduced coastal sea ice has also been implicated in the increase of stampeding deaths crowding the shorelines of the Chukchi Sea between eastern Russia and western Alaska. [4] Male Atlantic walrus weigh an average of 900 kg (2,000 lb). [83][84] Analysis of trends in ice cover published in 2012 indicate that Pacific walrus populations are likely to continue to decline for the foreseeable future, and shift further north, but that careful conservation management might be able to limit these effects. [54], The isolated population of Laptev Sea walruses is confined year-round to the central and western regions of the Laptev Sea, the eastmost regions of the Kara Sea, and the westmost regions of the East Siberian Sea. Skin and bone are used in some ceremonies, and the animal appears frequently in legends. Armed with its ivory tusks, walruses have been known to fatally injure polar bears in battles if the latter follows the other into the water, where the bear is at a disadvantage. The extraocular muscles of the walrus are well-developed. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the walrus was heavily exploited by American and European sealers and whalers, leading to the near-extirpation of the Atlantic subspecies. Despite their tusks, walruses seem cute. There are two subspecies: the Atlantic walrus (Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) and the Pacific walrus (O. rosmarus divergens). [31] Because ovulation is suppressed until the calf is weaned, females give birth at most every two years, leaving the walrus with the lowest reproductive rate of any pinniped. [89], The "walrus" in the cryptic Beatles song "I Am the Walrus" is a reference to the Lewis Carroll poem. This species is subdivided into two subspecies:[2] the Atlantic walrus (O. r. rosmarus), which lives in the Atlantic Ocean, and the Pacific walrus (O. r. divergens), which lives in the Pacific Ocean. The maximal number of teeth is 38 with dentition formula: 3.1.4.23.1.3.2, but over half of the teeth are rudimentary and occur with less than 50% frequency, such that a typical dentition includes only 18 teeth 1.1.3.00.1.3.0[4], Surrounding the tusks is a broad mat of stiff bristles ("mystacial vibrissae"), giving the walrus a characteristic whiskered appearance. There can be 400 to 700 vibrissae in 13 to 15 rows reaching 30 cm (12 in) in length, though in the wild they are often worn to much shorter lengths due to constant use in foraging. A lone mountain walrus makes the trek across the Nevada desert. Walrus, (Odobenus rosmarus), also called morse, huge, seal-like mammal found in Arctic seas. [25], Seal tissue has been observed in fairly significant proportion of walrus stomachs in the Pacific, but the importance of seals in the walrus diet is under debate. Walrus are huge. They prefer a habitat with a gravelly bottom. Walruses live in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of the world near the North Pole. There is no hierarchy in the herd, all members of the herd are less equal in their rights. Due to the reduction in abundance, the walrus area now exploded into several unconnected sites. This and its lack of orbital roof allow it to protrude its eyes and see in both a frontal and dorsal direction. The walrus is a large pinniped with upper canine teeth that grow into long tusks. The walrus has played a prominent role in the cultures of many indigenous Arctic peoples, who have hunted the walrus for its meat, fat, skin, tusks, and bone. [26] The vibrissae are attached to muscles and are supplied with blood and nerves, making them highly sensitive organs capable of differentiating shapes 3 mm (1⁄8 in) thick and 2 mm (3⁄32 in) wide. Perhaps its best-known appearance is in Lewis Carroll's whimsical poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter" that appears in his 1871 book Through the Looking-Glass. Walrus tusks were a big commodity during the period, with Europeans willing to pay big money or trade iron and much-needed timber (trees are scarce in Greenland) for the ivory. The cows will then give birth to 1-2 live calves in the beginning of summer. [citation needed]. Their name, Odobenus rosmarus, means 'one that walks with teeth'. The term divergens in Latin means "turning apart", referring to their tusks. The walrus palate is uniquely vaulted, enabling effective suction. [1] All told, the walrus is the third largest pinniped species, after the two elephant seals. Whales are classified with the cetacean group (dolphins, porpoises, toothed whales and baleen whales). [15] These dates coincide with the hypothesis derived from fossils that the walrus evolved from a tropical or subtropical ancestor that became isolated in the Atlantic Ocean and gradually adapted to colder conditions in the Arctic. A flippered marine mammal, Walrus is the only existing species in the family Odobenidae. Tusks are also used to form and maintain holes in the ice and aid the walrus in climbing out of water onto ice. There are three subspecies of walrus. Walruses spend one third of their time on land or pack ice and the other two thirds in the ocean. What Do Walruses Eat? According to Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld, European hunters and Arctic explorers found walrus meat not particularly tasty, and only ate it in case of necessity; however walrus tongue was a delicacy. The males possess a large baculum (penis bone), up to 63 cm (25 in) in length, the largest of any land mammal, both in absolute size and relative to body size. [69] The bears also isolate walruses when they overwinter and are unable to escape a charging bear due to inaccessible diving holes in the ice. What do walruses eat? Walruses Are Related to Seals and Sea Lions. Fish and Wildlife Service to force it to classify the Pacific Walrus as a threatened or endangered species. It disturbs (bioturbates) the sea floor, releasing nutrients into the water column, encouraging mixing and movement of many organisms and increasing the patchiness of the benthos. [12][13] Odobenidae was once a highly diverse and widespread family, including at least twenty species in the subfamilies Imagotariinae, Dusignathinae and Odobeninae. [35], Commercial harvesting reduced the population of the Pacific walrus to between 50,000 and 100,000 in the 1950s-1960s. Its second part has also been hypothesized to come from the Old Norse word for "horse". [4] A 28,000-year-old fossil walrus was dredged up from the bottom of San Francisco Bay, indicating that Pacific walruses ranged that far south during the last Ice Age. Both in Chukotka and Alaska, the aurora borealis is believed to be a special world inhabited by those who died by violence, the changing rays representing deceased souls playing ball with a walrus head. [86], The walrus plays an important role in the religion and folklore of many Arctic peoples. Laptev walruses live in the Laptev Sea of Russia. About two-thirds of the lives of these animals is spent underwater. Atlantic walruses can be found from northeast Canada to Greenland, while Pacific walruses are seen off Russia and Alaska. [according to whom? Even in the mating season, they do not have fatal battles, adults do not squeeze the young as it happens in other species. [4] They are not particularly deep divers compared to other pinnipeds; their deepest recorded dives are around 80 m (260 ft). Walruses are very sensitive to disturbances. [10], The compound Odobenus comes from odous (Greek for "teeth") and baino (Greek for "walk"), based on observations of walruses using their tusks to pull themselves out of the water. They tend to stay close to the shorelines but they will dive up to 260 feet to find food that they want to consume. With sea ice receding year after year, he says, the walruses … [51][52] In April 2006, the Canadian Species at Risk Act listed the population of the northwestern Atlantic walrus in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador as having been eradicated in Canada. This strategy of delayed implantation, common among pinnipeds, presumably evolved to optimize both the mating season and the birthing season, determined by ecological conditions that promote newborn survival. The Norwegian manuscript Konungsskuggsja, thought to date from around AD 1240, refers to the walrus as "rosmhvalr" in Iceland and "rostungr" in Greenland (walruses were by now extinct in Iceland and Norway, while the word evolved in Greenland). [14] The key distinguishing feature was the development of a squirt/suction feeding mechanism; tusks are a later feature specific to Odobeninae, of which the modern walrus is the last remaining (relict) species. Their population has rebounded somewhat since then, though the populations of Atlantic and Laptev walruses remain fragmented and at low levels compared with the time before human interference. [19][20] Newborn walruses are already quite large, averaging 33 to 85 kg (73 to 187 lb) in weight and 1 to 1.4 m (3 ft 3 in to 4 ft 7 in) in length across both sexes and subspecies. While some of these uses have faded with access to alternative technologies, walrus meat remains an important part of local diets,[77] and tusk carving and engraving remain a vital art form. These are elongated canines, which are present in both male and female walruses and can reach a length of 1 m (3 ft 3 in) and weigh up to 5.4 kg (12 lb). The tusks of a full grown walrus can weigh 12 pounds. As with otariids, it can turn its rear flippers forward and move on all fours; however, its swimming technique is more like that of true seals, relying less on flippers and more on sinuous whole body movements. As you read these walrus facts you can be confident that your knowledge about them is going to continue to expand. After a … Today the biggest threat facing walruses is the loss of stable sea ice due to climate change. 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