Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens)
Walruses are pinnipeds. Pinni means wing or fin and pedis means foot. Seals and sea lions are also pinnipeds. Walruses are the largest pinnipeds in the Arctic and Subarctic areas. They like to live in shallow water by ice floes or land. Their habitat is the entire polar basin. There are two types of walrus - the Pacific and the Atlantic. There are more pacific walrus than Atlantic.
Characteristics and Physical Features of the Walrus
Size: Bulls 10-12 ft., Cows 8-9 ft.
Distinguishing Characteristics: Tusks, whiskers, and sounds they make.
Breeding: Occurs in February and March but the fetus doesn't begin to grow until later in June. Calves weigh 85-140 lb. The calves are dark gray-brown in color when born.
Range: St. Lawrence Island, Chukchi Sea, Bristol Bay, Bering Sea, islands in Russia's Gulf of Anadyr
Diet: Clams, snails, crabs, shrimp and worms
What does a walrus have in common with a tree?
You can tell how old a walrus is by the number of rings you can find in a cross-section of its teeth just like you can tell how old a tree is by the number of "growth rings" it has. Most walrus don't die from old age but from hunting but some will live to be 35 in the wild. The longer the walrus tusk is the more important their rank in their group.
What is the first thing that you notice on a walrus?
The tusks are the first thing that you notice on a walrus. They are huge canine teeth and both male and female walrus have them. Tusks are made of ivory and grow to be two feet long in the cows and four feet long in the bulls. Bull tusks are straighter, thicker, and heavier. The longer the walrus tusk is the more important their rank in their group.
How is a walrus like a man?
Walrus walk on all four fins. He can even move on land as fast as a man canrun. Other pinniped have to drag their hind ends around but a walrus can walk.
What weighs more a walrus or a polar bear?
The walrus weighs more. Adult males will often weigh near two tons and the females are over one ton. Females can get to be as big as 2,000 pounds and the males continue growing until they are 14 or 15. Polar bears weigh about 900 pounds when they are full grown.
Why do people say the walrus has armor?
The walrus' skin is very wrinkly. These wrinkles are like armor and protect the walrus when they "joust" with thether males. Their thick skin also helps protect them from all predators except the orca whale, polar bear, and man.
Does the cold water make living in the Arctic hard for the walrus?
Living in the Arctic is not hard for the walrus to do because they have blubber under their skin. Blubber is their body fat. This protects them from the cold water in the Arctic.
Why does a walrus change colors?
Walrus change from pink-to-cinnamon brown to a lighter shade when it gets into cold water because it's blood vessels get smaller. Walrus are able to adjust to the surrounding temperatures with their blood circulatory system. When they get hot their blood is pumped to its blubber and skin and it gets cooled by the air or the water. When they're cold they can reduce the blood flow to the skin and blubber to save heat.
Where does a walrus spend its summer vacation?
In the winter they live in the ice pack of the Bering Sea. The ice recedes between April and June and the walrus move with it. During the summer the Pacific walrus move with the pack ice to the Chukchi Sea in Russia.
What do walrus use their tusks for?
Bull walrus fight or joust with other bulls during mating season with their tusks. They do this to earn the right to mate. Both male and female walrus use their tusks to pull themselves out of the water and to crack breathing holes in the ice during the winter.
How do walrus get their food?
The walrus have big whiskers. They use their whiskers to feel around until they find food. Then they blow to get the food loose or to make it move so they can get it. They need it to move because they can't get to it because of their tusks. Walrus mainly eat bottom-dwelling invertebrates. This would be things like clams, snails, crabs, shrimp and worms.
How do arctic people benefit from the walrus?
The arctic people in Alaska use the walrus for many things. The meat is eaten by the villagers and fed to the dogs, the skin is used to make umiak (walrus hide boats) boats, and the intestines are used for rain coats, window-covers, and floats. They use the ivory tusks and carve beautiful pictures on them and make a lot of different objects with them like necklaces. The bones are used to make spear heads.
In the past native mothers would use the walrus blubber as a pacifier for her baby. She would take a chunk of blubber, put a stick through it sideways and let her baby suck on it.
The oil is also used for food, light in oil lamps and to help heat arctic homes. Natives will tan and oil the hide to make durable covers for their large skin boats.
Written by Samuel