Atlantic Walrus | Oceana Canada

Canadian Marine Life Encyclopedia

Atlantic Walrus

Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus

Also known as

Walrus

Distribution

Eastern Arctic

Ecosystem/Habitat

Shallow (80m or less), open water areas with soft sea floors close to land or pack ice

Feeding Habits

Foraging predator

Conservation Status

Special concern/data deficient

Taxonomy

Order Pinnipedia (seals, sea lions and relatives); Family Odobenidae (walruses)

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The Atlantic walrus is one of the most iconic marine mammals of the Arctic, thanks to its large, ivory tusks. These tusks are actually elongated canine teeth. Both males and females have them, although the males’ tusks are much longer. Walruses are very large: adult males weigh between 1,000 to 2,000 kilograms. Because of their size, they are rather clumsy and slow-moving on land, but in the water they have smooth and graceful swimming abilities. 

Walruses are most easily identified by their large front tusks, which are longer and wider on males than on females. They also have a moustache-like array of whiskers around their mouth, which is used for sensing prey hidden in the seafloor. Both their front and hind limbs have developed into flippers, with the front flippers able to support their body weight. They have thick skin that is a cinnamon-brown colour, which may appear more pink on a hot day or white-ish after a long dive. Walruses can grow to around three metres long and weigh from 800 kilograms for females to up to almost 2,000 kilograms for males.