Breath In… Now out

One of the lesser known talents of The Walrus, is the extreme elasticity of its pharynx, the lateral walls of which can be expanded into a pair of large pouches. These pouches are thinwalled when inflated. and vary dramatically in size, but can potentially hold up to 50 litres of air. These pouches appear to be present in all adult males, but only in a few females, and not at all in walrus calves. It has been suggested that these pouches are utilised for buoyancy, especially when the walruses sleep in the water.

By Ansgar Walk [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Ansgar Walk [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Where Is The Walrus?

The Walrus is almost circumpolar in its distribution, with those inhabiting the North Atlantic being known as the Atlantic Walrus, Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus, and those inhabiting the North Pacific being known as the Pacific Walrus, Odobenus rosmarus divergens. Some authorities state the existence of a third subspecies, Odobenus rosmarus laptevi, which is found in the Laptev Sea off of Russia’s northern coast, but this is not commonly accepted outside of Russia, where most authorities see it as the westernmost population of Pacific Walrus.

By Mirko Thiessen [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Mirko Thiessen [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

There Can Be Only One!

As detailed below in my previous post, male walruses utilise their tusks for fighting among themselves, typically to exert dominance. This video shows some of the fighting techniques used by the male walruses, and that victory in these fights always comes at a price!

Long In The Tooth

The most distinctive feature of The Walrus is without doubt their tusks. These tusks are extended canines, and are present in both male and female walruses. Tusk length in males is on average 70 cm, and in females is on average 60 cm. The males have the thicker tusks of the two, a necessary requirement as they utilise their tusks for fighting among themselves, typically to exert dominance. One of the most interesting uses they have for their tusks is the crafting of breathing holes in the ice. These breathing holes can be hung onto by the walrus using their tusks, as seen below. They are formed when the walrus needs to breath, but is trapped by above ice, in which case the walrus can dig up through up to 8 inches of ice to craft a breathing hole.

By Eliezg (English wikipedia) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Eliezg (English wikipedia) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Weighing In At…

The enormous bulk of The Walrus  means that it is not often seen as the most majestic of creatures. This is further compounded by its movement on land, which at times can be quite comical. However the fact that the walrus can move itself around on land at all is impressive. The average weights of Pacific Walrus are for a male, 1,200 kg, a female, 800 kg, and a newborn calf, 50 kg. So obviously the walrus is not a lightweight!

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Time For A Nap

When people look at The Walrus, they tend to imagine it is quite a lazy animal, but that isn’t entirely true. Whilst they are able to sleep almost anywhere, including underwater for extremely brief periods during dives. walruses are also capable of impressive feats of endurance, often going days without sleep. So this walrus below is probably taking a well earned nap!

By Ansgar Walk [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Ansgar Walk [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons