The population of these pinnipeds is rapidly declining. Therefore, in Russia, the Atlantic walrus is taken under protection. The red book, where these animals have got, is trying to prevent the disappearance of a unique subspecies. Major walrus rookeries are declared protected.
The population of the sea animal includes scattered, poorly contacted herds. Their numbers declined sharply due to uncontrolled commercial fishing. Of the 25,000 heads, about 4,000 animals remained.
Description of Atlantic walruses
Information about these giants of the Arctic is very scarce. Walruses are large animals with brown-brown skin. The weight of 3-4-meter males is about two tons, and in females that grow up to 2.6 meters in length, it approaches a ton. Huge mammals have a small head with a wide muzzle and tiny eyes.
The upper jaw is decorated with two powerful canines up to 35-50 centimeters long. Tusks easily pierce the ice. They help the awkward animal to climb the ice from the sea. Tusks are a weapon against opponents and protection from enemies. Walruses are often pierced with tusks of polar bears.
The mighty Atlantic walrus, whose photo is not easy to make, possesses another ingenious device - a straw-colored mustache. They form hundreds of tough hairs. The hairs are thick, like the feathers of a bird's feather, sensitive like fingers. Thanks to them, walruses distinguish even the smallest objects and easily find mollusks that have been smoked in the ocean floor.
Outwardly, the Atlantic walrus looks completely unattractive. Its description is as follows: a corpulent, stale body on a rocky beach, riddled with fat folds and deep scars, gives off a sharp fetid odor, tiny eyes filled with blood, fester. The body of adult walruses is strewn with sparse, hard hair, and the young growth envelops the dense dark brown hair.
On land, the Atlantic walrus is awkward, it moves with difficulty, going through all four flippers. And in the ocean, he feels great, gliding easily in the water column. Apparently, it is for this reason that he mostly lies on a rocky beach, and he is actively moving in sea waters.
Mollusks and crustaceans are the main food of the mighty beast. Although it happens that he attacks a baby seal. The giant animal feels full, eating 35-50 kg of food.
Mating season and breeding
The life span of an Atlantic walrus is 45 years. He is slowly growing up. Sexual maturity at him comes to 6-10 years. Walruses are not only able to doze, burp, snap, join fights, but also bark.
Strong beasts are quite musical. Their musicality is most pronounced in the mating season. In January-April, the pinnipeds sing impressively. Mating in giants occurs in May and June. A female carries a fruit for 12 months.
Cubs appear with her every once in a couple of years. After all, the mother has to feed a puppy to two years. And walrus males stay with their mother until 5 years. The female never leaves the herd (by and large it and form females with calves).
Walruses live in discharged ice fields, driftwood, in the open ocean. For life they choose water areas with a depth of 20-30 meters. They prefer to make shelters on ice and rocky coasts. Their annual migration is due to the movement of ice. Having climbed the drifting ice floe, they float, as if on a seagoing ship, to habitual habitats, where, having chosen the land, they haul away.
These pinnipeds inhabit along the shores of the Barents and Kara seas. They have chosen the coves, lagoons and lips that have cut the shores of numerous islands in this region. Ice and coastal rookeries subspecies scattered on Franz Josef Land.
The northeastern extremity of Novaya Zemlya is a place that inhabited the Atlantic walrus and invariably returns there. In the eastern regions of the Kara Sea it is not often found. He arranges his abodes in the White Sea, on the Kanin Peninsula, on the islands of Kolguyev and Vaigach.
He also likes the east coast of the Canadian Arctic. In this region, the Hudson Bay and the Frobisher Cove and Fox Bay, Baffin Land, Devon Island became the abode for him. More rarely, it forms a maturation on the Arctic islands that are west of the Barrow Strait. They inhabited the Baffin Sea, Greenland from the west coast, the waters of the Davis Strait.
The European Atlantic provided drift ice of Northern Iceland, lips and lagoons extending to Spitsbergen. Norway from the northern coastline sheltered individuals.
The population of the powerful beast has declined sharply due to increased fishing. The Atlantic walrus was particularly hard hit, living in the Kara Sea. Pinnipeds were brutally exterminated in the XIX century. In some regions they were completely destroyed. The population suffered the strongest extermination in the Canadian Arctic, Greenland, and Svalbard.
Nowadays, the number of the beast limits the rapid human economy. Especially the onset of oil and gas companies involved in the development of new fields. They catastrophically pollute the natural habitats of the Atlantic giants, expelling them from the inhabited territories. A subspecies with low potential is difficult to resist inadequate fishing loads and other anthropogenic aspects.
Walrus affect 10 species of helminths. Diseases and causes of death of pinnipeds are not clarified by scientists. Killer whales and polar bears are considered natural enemies of the population.
Atlantic Walrus Description
Large sea animal has very thick skin. The upper canines of the walrus are extremely developed, elongated and directed downwards. A rather wide face is seated with thick and tough, numerous, flattened bristle-mustaches (vibrissae). The number of such whiskers on the upper lip is often 300-700 pieces. The outer ears are completely absent, and the eyes are small.
The length of the canines of a walrus sometimes reaches half a meter. Such tusks have a practical purpose, are able to easily penetrate the ice, they allow to protect the territory and their fellow tribesmen from many enemies. Among other things, with the help of their canines, walruses can easily penetrate the body of even large white polar bears. The skin of an adult walrus is very wrinkled and rather thick, with a characteristic fifteen centimeter layer of fat. The skin of the Atlantic walrus is covered with short and contiguous type brown or yellowish-brown hairs, the number of which decreases markedly with age.
It is interesting! The Atlantic walrus is a unique species of the ecological region of the Barents Sea, listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation.
The oldest representatives of the subspecies Atlantic walrus have almost completely bare and rather fair skin. The extremities of the animal are very well adapted for movement over land and have callosities, therefore walruses are not able to crawl, but walk. The tail part of the pinniped rudimentary type.
Representatives of the subspecies Atlantic walrus prefer to unite in herds of different numbers. Pelastic-footed animals living collectively try to actively help each other, and also protect their weakest and youngest relatives from the attacks of natural enemies. When the majority of animals in such a herd simply rest or sleep, the safety of all is ensured by the so-called guard guards. Only in the event of any danger approaching, these guards deafen the whole area with a loud roar.
It is interesting! According to scientists, in the course of numerous observations it was possible to prove that, possessing excellent hearing, the female is able to hear the call of her cub even at a distance of two kilometers.
The apparent unsuitability and awkwardness of walruses is compensated for by excellent hearing, an excellent sense of smell, and well-developed eyesight. Pinniped representatives know how to swim perfectly and are friendly enough, but if necessary, they are capable of drowning a fishing boat.
As accurately as possible at present, it is not easy to estimate the total number of representatives of the subspecies of the Atlantic walrus, but, most likely, it does not exceed twenty thousand individuals at the moment. This rare population has spread from the Arctic Canada, Spitsbergen, Greenland, as well as in the western region of the Russian Arctic.
It was precisely on the basis of significant geographical distribution and scientific data on all movements that it was possible to assume the existence of only eight animal subpopulations, five of which are located in the west and three in the eastern part of the territory of Greenland. Sometimes such a pinned animal enters the waters of the White Sea.
It is interesting! In the annual regime, walruses are able to migrate along with large ice, so they move to drifting ice floes, swim to them to the desired place, and then go to land, where they make their rookery.
Previously, representatives of the subspecies Atlantic walrus occupied the limits that stretched southward to the territory of Cape Cod. In a sufficiently large number, the pinniped animal was found in the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In the spring of 2006, the northwestern population of Atlantic walruses was introduced into the Canadian Act on Threatened Species.
Atlantic Walrus Diet
The feeding process for representatives of the Atlantic walrus subspecies is almost constant. The basis of their ration is made up of bottom mollusks, which are very easily caught by pinnipeds. The walruses with the help of their long and rather powerful tusks turn up the muddy bottom of the reservoir, resulting in the filling of the water with hundreds of small-sized shells.
Collected shells walrus cling to the flippers, after which with the help of very powerful movements they are rubbed. The remaining shell fragments fall to the bottom, while the mollusks themselves remain floating on the water surface. They are very actively eaten by walruses. Also, various crustaceans and worms are used for food.
It is interesting! A rich diet is necessary for walruses to support the vital functions of the body, as well as to build up a sufficient amount of subcutaneous fat, which is important for protection from hypothermia and swimming.
Fish are not valued by pinniped animals, therefore such feed is eaten quite rarely, only in a period of too serious problems associated with food. Atlantic walruses are not at all disdainful of thick-skinned giants and carrion. Scientists have documented cases of attack of large-legged large animals on narwhals and seals.
Reproduction and offspring
Atlantic walruses reach full sexual maturity only at the age of five or six years, and the active mating season in such pinniped animals occurs in April and May.
It was during this period that the males, previously distinguished by their very peace-loving disposition, became quite aggressive, therefore they often fight each other for females, using large and well-developed fang-tusks for this purpose. Certainly, sexually mature females choose only the strongest and most active males for their sexual partners.
The average period of pregnancy of the walrus does not last more than 340-370 days, after which only one but rather large-sized cub is born. In extremely rare cases, twins are born.. The body length of a newborn Atlantic walrus is about one meter with an average weight in the range of 28-30 kg. From the very first days of their lives, kids learn to swim. During the first year, walruses feed exclusively on mother's milk, and only after that they acquire the ability to eat the food characteristic of adult walruses.
Absolutely all the walruses have very well developed maternal instincts, so they are capable of selflessly protecting their young in the event of any danger. According to observations, in general, Atlantic walrus females are very gentle and caring mothers. Approximately up to the age of three years, when tusks-canines appear in young walruses, young people are almost always staying next to their parent. Only at the age of three, I have already grown enough fangs, representatives of the subspecies Atlantic walrus begin adulthood.
The main threat to many animals, including animals of the subspecies of the Atlantic walrus, is people. For poachers and hunters, large pinnipeds are a source of valuable tusks, bacon and nutritious meat. Despite significant restrictions in the commercial value, as well as conservation measures in the habitats, the total number of Atlantic walruses is steadily declining, so these animals are under threat of extinction.
It is interesting! In addition to humans, polar bears and partly the killer whale are enemies of the walrus in nature, and among other things such animals suffer greatly from many dangerous indoor and outdoor parasites.
It should be noted that the exception to date has been made only for some indigenous northern peoples, including the Chukchi and the Eskimos. For them, hunting for pinnipeds is a natural need and they are allowed to catch a limited number of fairly rare individuals. The meat of such an animal has become an integral part of the diet of the northern peoples because of their long-term national characteristics.
Population and species status
To be fair, it should be noted that a rather drastic reduction in the total number of this subspecies of animals is caused not only by active and massive shooting in the process of fishing, but also by the rapid development of the oil industry. Enterprises of this particular industry are heavily polluted by the natural habitat of the Red Book walrus.
The concern of many experts is a noticeable lack of information regarding the current state of the walrus population.. To date, only the approximate number of such animals in the waters of the Pechora Sea and on the ground of some rookeries is known. Also, the movements of walruses throughout the year and the connection of different groups with each other remain unknown. The development of measures necessary for the preservation of the walrus population implies the obligatory implementation of additional research.
Walrus: description, structure, characteristics. What does a walrus look like?
According to the zoological classification, all walruses belong to the walrus family, the order of pinnipeds, that is, having flippers instead of legs.
The size of a walrus, if it is a male, is on average 3-4.5 meters in length, females of walrus are slightly smaller - they are 2.6-3.6 meters in length. The weight of the male walrus is 1.5-1.8 tons, the females are slightly lighter, they weigh “only” 700-800 kg.
Externally, walruses are also somewhat similar to their relatives - eared seals. The walrus body, although very massive, nevertheless is distinguished by unexpected plasticity and mobility. The hind legs of the walrus are able to bend in the heel articulation, may bend under the body and take part in the movement of these animals.
But the main difference of walruses, both from other pinnipeds and other animals in general, their “trademark” is, of course, a pair of long canines or tusks protruding from the upper jaw towards the ground.
In females, the length of the canines-tusks is on average 30-40 cm, whereas in males they can reach as much as 80 cm. Why does walrus have canine tusks? In fact, they serve fangs for various practical purposes, primarily for self-defense from potential predators and for finding out the relationship between themselves - male walruses sometimes cling to each other because of females, and then their fangs are used. And with the help of their tusks, walruses can climb on the ice.
In addition to tusks-tusks, walruses have sensitive hair on the face — vibrissae, the thickness of an adult walrus vibrissa, approximately, such as that of a wire.
Walrus eyesight is poorly developed, but this deficiency is more than compensated for by an excellent sense of smell, so the walruses may well smell, including the smell of a person, retiring before it approaches.
Walrus skin is thick and coarse, with tiny rudiments of wool, in fact vibrissae are the only body hair of a walrus. The color of the walrus is brown, but old individuals sometimes have pinkish spots on their skin - these are traces of numerous scars and scratches, acquired for the troubled walrus life.
Where does the walrus live?
Walruses live around the Arctic North Pole, on the northern coasts of Europe, Asia, North America and some Arctic islands. Also, unlike seals, they avoid open water and pack ice, trying to stay near the coast. Large walrus colonies are located on the Chukchi Peninsula, on the banks of the Bering Strait and Labrador Peninsula.
What does a walrus eat?
The favorite delicacy of walruses is sea worms, mollusks and crustaceans. With its powerful fangs, the walrus sinks into the muddy bottom and lifts up a lot of shells from there, their shells are erased with fins, and the mollusks themselves are eaten by walruses. Similarly, it happens with worms and crustaceans, which walruses are literally swept from the seabed to be eaten. To saturate an adult walrus, it is necessary to eat at least 50 kg of food per day.
Поедают моржи и рыбу, но с меньшей охотой, нежели моллюски или черви, к охоте на рыб моржи могут прибегнуть в крайнем случае, когда нет другой еды для них.
In turn, the walrus itself can become prey for killer whales at sea, polar bears on land, and the third enemy (in any element) is, of course, man. The indigenous peoples of the North: the Chukchi and the Eskimos, from ancient times hunted walruses (as well as seals), but they never killed them more than they needed to feed themselves. The white man changed everything - the barbaric extermination of walruses by hunters and poachers in the past and the nineteenth century, carried out for the sake of their fangs and tusks, led to the fact that in our time the walrus population has declined dramatically and now these giants of the Arctic are listed in the Red Book, because the brink of extinction.
Walruses are herd animals, and usually gather in small herds of 20–30 individuals in size, but sometimes they can create large rookeries of up to 3000 individuals. In a herd of walruses, the strongest male usually dominates, the rest of the males periodically find out the relationship with him and with each other, but the main subject of the dispute of the walrus male is of course the female. But disputes and even fights for females between males occur exclusively in the mating season, the rest of the time all walruses are very peaceful animals.
Interestingly, the sentries are located on the edges of the walrus rookeries, having noticed the danger, they notify their fellows with a loud roar, after which the whole herd rushes into the water. Like seals, all walruses are excellent swimmers who can spend the whole day in the water.
The Pacific walrus is the largest walrus in the world, the male is 3.5-4.5 m long and weighs up to two tons. Females are a bit smaller. Inhabits the northern part of the Far East - along the banks of the Bering Strait, in the Chukchi and Bering Sea and off the islands of Kamchatka.
This type of walrus is the smallest, currently endangered. It lives in the Central and Western part of the Laptev Sea, in the eastern part of the Kara Sea and in the West of the East Siberian Sea. In size, laptev walruses occupy an intermediate state between the Pacific and Atlantic walrus.
Walruses reach sexual maturity at the age of five years, and their mating period occurs in April-Maya, it was during this period that the previously peace-loving males become very aggressive and now and then fight each other (using tusks-tusks, of course) for females. Those, as it should be, choose for their sexual partners the strongest males.
The pregnancy of the walrus lasts 340-370 days and only one young is born at a time. In very rare cases, twins can be born. Small walruses are not that small - their body length is about 1 m and weighs 30 kg. From the first days of life they learn to swim. The first year of life small walruses are breastfed, and only after a year they become able to eat the food of adult walruses.
All walruses have developed maternal instinct, they selflessly protect their young in case of danger, and in general are caring mothers. Up to three years, while tusks-tusks have not yet grown up in a young walrus, he dwells next to his mother, and only when he reaches the age of three, does adult life begin with already grown tusks.
Interesting facts about walruses
- During the last ice age, walruses were spread over a much wider geographic range, as their remains were found near San Francisco in the United States.
- Walruses, or rather walruses, are so caring mothers that when needed, they take care not only of their young, but also of strangers.
- The stomach of a walrus is so big that Chukchi and Eskimos have made waterproof capes of it since ancient times.
- The Greek name for walrus, Odobenus rosmarus, literally means “walking on the teeth,” which is what walruses received because of their ability to cling to the ice floes and climb the ice.
What does WWF do to save walrus populations?
In 2009, an Expert Advisory Group was created for the conservation and study of the walrus of the southeastern Barents Sea and adjacent waters, which brought together the best experts in this field. Since that time, an active study of the population. Here are some of the successes of scientists:
- Aerial survey of part of the Pechora Sea in the spring. Information was obtained on the distribution of walruses on the ice, as well as an approximate estimate of their numbers. It is in the spring that the walruses on the ice produce offspring, therefore they are most vulnerable to anthropogenic influences.
- The work on tagging walruses with satellite transmitters has been established - now experts track the movements of walruses over many? months.
- On the coastal rookery on about. Vaygach installed camera traps. Based on the survey results, for the first time, complete information was received on the timing of the formation of this rookery.
- For the first time a large sample of biological samples from the Pechora Sea walrus was obtained. A genetic analysis of DNA samples was carried out, which showed that rookbay is about. Vaigach gather animals belonging to the same population group. Next, researchers will find out the degree of kinship of the Pechora Sea walrus with animals inhabiting areas of Franz Josef Land and Spitsbergen.
- A unique project for filming rookeries with high resolution satellites, implemented thanks to the support of WWF and ScanEx Company, was carried out. The pictures allow us to estimate the number of walruses on the rookery even in the most inaccessible areas.
Detailed results of four years of research are collected in a joint publication of the WWF and the Marine Mammal Council.
Research on the walrus population in the Pechora Sea continues. During the next expedition of 2016, scientists studied the menu of pinnipeds. Benthos samples from benthic organisms, mollusks, and crustaceans were taken from the sea bottom. Subsequently, they were sent to a laboratory for toxicological analysis and detailed study. At 15 locations, scientists filmed the bottom using the GNOM telemetric underwater vehicle.
In addition, WWF conducts a direct dialogue with representatives of the oil and gas industry, urging them to act on the principle of “measure seven times - one cut”. The point is that it is necessary to conduct research, monitoring the inhabitants of the places where only the production of hydrocarbons is planned. And based on the data, to adjust the plans, then not to reap the bitter fruit.
As a result of a dialogue with WWF for the first time in Russia, the Yamal LNG company adopted a corporate strategy for the conservation of the Atlantic walrus. The document will help protect marine mammals from man-made threats, and the company will allow to systematize data on the status and location of the population. This is the first and important step towards the corporate responsibility of mining companies in the conservation of Atlantic walruses.
In order to draw the attention of as many people as possible to the problems of studying and preserving a unique species, in 2007, WWF established an international holiday - Walrus Day. Every year it only gains popularity and is celebrated far beyond the borders of our country.
What does a walrus look like?
The walrus is considered to be one of the largest representatives of the group of pinnipeds, inferior in size only to elephant seals. The body length of an adult individual can reach 3–4.5 m with a mass of 1.5–1.8 tonnes, with female individuals slightly shorter than males.
Outwardly, the walrus resembles eared seals, and its massive body is remarkable for the mobility and flexibility inherent to such sea lions and seals for such a giant. The body of the walrus is covered with very thick, rough skin with rudiments of hair. The thickness of the skin on the chest can reach 4 cm, on the belly — 8 cm, on the neck — up to 10 cm.
Young individuals are distinguished by a brown color of the body, with age the skin becomes lighter and paler, old individuals are almost pink. Due to the narrowing of the blood vessels in ice water, some individuals become almost white when swimming.
Walrus cubs are covered with reddish hair; short, yellow-brown hair grows on the skin of young individuals, which thin out as the animal grows. The skin of old walrus is practically bare.
On a short and wide muzzle, a set of thick, hard whiskers, arranged in several transverse rows, are clearly distinguishable. So, on the upper lip of an adult individual there can be from 400 to 700 such bristles - vibrissae growing in 13-18 rows. Vibrissae are very sensitive, and in thickness they are not inferior to wire. The lower lip is short, the upper lip is pale and elongated.
The outer ears of the walrus are missing, which makes them look like real seals. But unlike the latter, the hind limbs of the walrus are bent at the heel joint and are more adapted to move along the ground. The front flippers are plastic and mobile, covered with corns. On the flippers distinguishable 5 fingers, ending with short, blunt claws.
The walrus tail is poorly developed and is a short, leathery blade.
Looks like a walrus on the side. Photo walrus. Walrus.
Despite the similarity with other representatives of the pinniped group, walruses have characteristic features of the structure, which makes these animals unique in their kind.
The males throat has bag-like expansions without locking valves, which have the ability to swell and turn upwards. At the same time, the twitching muscles of the esophagus do not allow air to escape. Thanks to this "float" walruses can swim and not sink even in sleep. In addition, the throat sacs are involved in sound formation: the walrus voice is a mixture of cow mooing and dull barking.
Walrus seedlings are not in the scrotum, but directly under the skin-fat layer. The mammary glands are represented by 2 pairs of nipples, although they can often be 5. The secondary sexual characteristics of males are characteristic skin growths on the neck, shoulders and chest.
The incisors on the lower jaw are absent; on the upper jaw they are very small or are in their infancy. This feature of the structure is compensated by the presence of well-developed canines of the upper jaw — a unique hallmark of walruses.
Individual fangs (or tusks) are endowed with individuals of both sexes. The length of the tusks of females is 30–40 cm; in males, the tusks grow to 60–80 cm in length (in some specimens up to 1 m) and have a mass of from 3 to 5.4 kg.
Walruses use tusks in battles and duels, crawl out onto the ice with their help, and are also used as tools, forming holes in the ice thickness. The male dominating in the herd always has the most powerful tusks.
Area and subspecies
The walrus range extends in a ring around the North Pole. Depending on the habitat, the modern classification distinguishes 3 subspecies of walruses:
Pacific Walrus (Latin Odobenus rosmarus divergens) lives in the northern part of the Far Eastern region. It is distributed in the waters of the Chukchi and Bering seas and off the islands along the coast of Kamchatka. The largest population lives on Wrangel Island.
Representatives of the subspecies are the largest walrus on the planet. The average length of the torso of males reaches 3-4 m with a body weight of 1.7 to 2 tons. The average weight of females can reach up to 900 kg. Males tusks grow to 80 cm, females - up to 40-60 cm.
The Pacific walrus was called the eastern walrus of Eurasia, and the walrus got its Latin name divergens thanks to its tusks, which are much wider than those of the Atlantic subspecies.
Atlantic walrus (lat. Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) is found in the Kara Sea and in the eastern Barents Sea, sometimes entering the White Sea. As a result of uncontrolled extermination, the modern population includes about 20 thousand individuals. The most numerous herds were found in the bays and inlets of the archipelago of Franz Josef Land.
The Atlantic walrus is the smallest subspecies: the average body length of males is 2.5–3 m, the females are much smaller. Males tusks have a length of 34 to 38 cm, in females from 27 to 33 cm.
The subspecies received the name of the Western walrus of Eurasia and is listed in the Red Book of Russia, as rare and prone to decline.
Laptev Walrus (lat. Odobenus rosmarus laptevi) —the smallest group, whose independence as a subspecies is still being questioned. The isolated walrus population lives year-round in the central and western parts of the Laptev Sea, in the eastern part of the Kara Sea and in the very west of the East Siberian Sea.
Laptev walruses rest on the banks of East Taimyr, in the Lena River delta and on the New Siberian Islands.
In terms of body size, the subspecies is intermediate between Pacific and Atlantic relatives. The length of the torso of males can reach 4.1 m, females — 3.7 m. Males tusks can have a length of 65 cm, in females they grow to 58 cm.
The Laptev walrus is listed in the Red Book of Russia as a rare and vulnerable subspecies.
Where do walruses live?
Walruses are indigenous inhabitants of the Far North and travel extremely rarely, over short distances. They prefer to live off the coast, in shallow areas, not more than 90 m deep, avoiding solid ice.
Being social animals, walruses live in herds, 10-20 individuals of both sexes, and on rookeries form groups from several hundred to 3 thousand individuals, most of which are females. What is interesting: as such, the hierarchy in the herd does not exist, experienced males are loyal to the young and all members of the group are relatively equal in their rights.
Walrus rest on the ground or on an ice floe, without departing far from the water's edge. In connection with the anatomical structure of the body, the rest is lying down, and the walrus can sleep even in water, not getting to the land for days. Due to the significant fatty layer (up to 250 kg of fat in each individual), the walrus cannot accidentally drown physically.
Walruses are sociable and peaceful towards their relatives, but at the same time they are vigilant and careful: sentries are always on display in any rookery. Walrus eyesight is weak, but the sense of smell is well developed and the approach of a man is felt very sharply, so hunters try to surround the herd from the leeward side.
At the slightest danger, a watch with a loud roar wakes up its relatives and excited giants rush in a crowd into the sea, hide in the water column and can do without air for about 10 minutes.
During this stampede, several individuals die in a crush and become prey for polar bears.
Walrus rookery on the shore in Alaska.
What do walruses eat?
The basis of the walrus ration is made up of the demersal mollusks: with their tusks, the walrus plunges into the muddy bottom and lifts up a multitude of shells, which are immediately rubbed with calloused fins. The shell sinks to the bottom, and the clams, in large quantities, are eaten by walrus. For complete saturation of the walrus, it is necessary to eat up to 50 kg of mollusks per day.
From the bottom organisms, crustaceans and worms also go into the food of the walrus. If the main components of the diet are not available, walrus has to be content with fish, although they do not like it.
On occasion, walruses do not disdain carrion. Very rarely, especially large individuals attack the seals and narwhals.
On such a simple diet, walruses, however, quickly fatten and build up a layer of fat in 5-10 cm, which not only improves the buoyancy, but also protects animals from hypothermia.
Walrus under water.
In the vast Arctic lands, walruses have only 2 main natural enemies: the polar bear and the killer whale.
As a thunderstorm of the Arctic Circle, the polar bear attacks the walrus as a last resort, with an acute shortage of food. After all, it is very difficult to cope with a walrus on land, and in water it is practically unrealistic.
Therefore, the bear has to patiently track down an old individual left without its mother's cub, or watch the walrus at the polynya and at the moment when the walrus pops up, stun with a powerful paw blow, and then kill.
Killer whales growing to 8 m in length, in packs, attack a group of swimming walruses, beat off several individuals from the herd and eat. Walrus can escape, only in time to get to the land or ice floe.
And the main enemy of the walrus is man for a long time. The barbaric extermination of walruses by American and European hunters in the 18-19 century led to a sharp drop in population numbers and a complete disappearance from many areas of the range.
The fossilized walrus remains are found in warmer latitudes, but it was the people who drove the walrus to the North Pole itself, where it is very problematic for a person to get through.
Today, walrus fishing is prohibited by the laws of all countries, and limited hunting, within a strictly regulated framework, is allowed only to indigenous peoples of the North, including the Chukchi and Eskimo people.
Walrus fishery by the indigenous peoples of the North
Despite the achievements of science and technology, the life of many northern nations is still closely connected with the commercial harvest of walrus. They hunt walrus at the end of the summer and use all parts of the animal in their business.
Marinated meat is an irreplaceable source of protein in the winter period and is considered a dietary food for the aborigines. Fins walrus kvass and cherish until spring as a delicacy. Sturdy skin goes to the construction of dwellings, fitting boats and making ropes. Intestinal and gastric membranes are suitable for the manufacture of waterproof clothing. Salo is melted down and used for heating and lighting of dwellings.
An integral part of the folklore of most communities is the manufacture of handicrafts and souvenirs from the bones and tusks of the walrus.
Окруженные в воде животные самоотверженно защищают себя и своих сородичей до самой смерти: ныряют под шлюпки и пробивают в них бреши, а также переворачивают лодки своими мощными бивнями.
Во времена капитана Кука, мореплаватели в густом тумане могли определить близость берега по реву спаривающихся моржей, слышному за несколько км, и благодаря этому часто спасались от столкновения со льдиной.
The length of the bone — the baculum, which is located in the walrus penis, is about 50 cm, which is an absolute record among mammals in terms of body length, as well as absolute length. Thanks to this unique fact, the abusive expression “horseradish of the walrus” was born.