The call came at about 2am. First encounter …
The time has come,the Walrus said, To talk of many things: Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax Of cabbages and kings And why the sea is boiling hot And whether pigs have wings. Lewis Carroll
The seals and their allies are grouped as the Pinnipedia consisting of three families, the Phocidae – True or Earless Seals with about 18 species; the Otariidae – the Eared Seals, about 15 species; Odobenidae – the Walrus sole member of its family.
A newborn Walrus weighs about 55kg. Around Svalbard a fully grown male will be about 3 metres long and weigh about 900kg. Add about 10% to that for Pacific specimens.
They reach this impressive size mainly on a diet of clams which they identify with their sensitive whiskers, clear the shell of covering substrate with a jet of water from their mouth and then suck out the contents with a powerful piston-like movement of their tongue. Under no circumstances insert any part of your body into a walrus’s mouth.
They dive to a maximum depth of about 80 metres and generally do not stay submerged for more than about half an hour. As pinnipeds go this is small beer.
The Atlantic population plunged almost to extinction in the 19th century due to hunting for blubber and ivory. It is now on the way up again.
You may not find walruses particularly handsome but this one finds himself adorable. I nicknamed him Narcissus …
It is reported that their eyesight is poor. After watching them at a haul-out for a couple of hours I am amazed that any still have eyes at all.
I have about 3 000 photographs of Walrus. You may see more.