The mustached and long-tusked walrus is most often found near the Arctic Circle, lying on the ice with hundreds of companions. These marine mammals are extremely sociable, prone to loudly bellowing and snorting at one another, but are aggressive during mating season. With wrinkled brown and pink hides, walruses are distinguished by their long white tusks, grizzly whiskers, flat flipper, and bodies full of blubber.
The walrus’ other characteristic features are equally useful. As their favorite meals, particularly shellfish, are found near the dark ocean floor, walruses use their extremely sensitive whiskers, called mustacial vibrissae, as detection devices. Their blubbery bodies allow them to live comfortably in the Arctic region—walruses are capable of slowing their heartbeats in order to withstand the polar temperatures of the surrounding waters.
The two subspecies of walrus are divided geographically. Atlantic walruses inhabit coastal areas from northeastern Canada to Greenland, while Pacific walruses inhabit the northern seas off Russia and Alaska, migrating seasonally from their southern range in the Bering Sea—where they are found on the pack ice in winter—to the Chukchi Sea. Female Pacific walruses give birth to calves during the spring migration north.
- Walrus Without Ice (motherjones.com)
- Feds: Lack Of Sea Ice Changes Walrus Behavior (seattle.cbslocal.com)
- Orphaned walruses cared for at Alaska Sealife Center (kansascity.com)
- Walruses Forced Ashore as Arctic Ice Disappears (livescience.com)