6 Amazing Facts About Walruses






This is a link to an old page – and you may quibble with the term “amazing” – but there are indeed a good sized amount of walrus facts on the page below. Here’s a sample

In water, walruses can reach 35 km (22 mi) per hour, but they swim with a medium speed of 7 km (4 mi) per hour. Walruses do not go further than 30 km (19 mi) off the coast. Propelling is ensured by rear limbs, while the front limbs work like rudders.

Here’s the link to the full page (beware the underlined blue terms, they spawn ads):

Worldwide Walrus Population

I noticed in my site logs that someone came to the site today off of the Google Query “How many Pacific Walruses are there in the world?” A good question – so I Googled it myself, and I’ll add the info to the site now, thanks to the excellent “Walrus Info Book” on Seaworld.org (Link to HTML, Link to PDF).

  1. Total world walrus population is about 250,000 animals.
  2. The Pacific walrus population is currently unknown but was last estimated at more than 200,000 animals in 1990.
    • The Pacific walrus population has been hunted to depletion and allowed to recover several times.
    • After the latest population depletion, which began in the 1930s, Pacific walruses were given protection by Russia, the State of Alaska, and the U.S. federal government. This protection led to the eventual recovery of the Pacific walrus population. Walruses reoccupied areas where they had not been seen for several years.
    • By the early 1980s, walruses appeared leaner. They increased their consumption of alternate foods such as fishes. Natural mortality increased, and birth rates decreased. This evidence supports the theory that the Pacific walrus population may have approached the carrying capacity of its environment.
    • As the Pacific walrus population grew, annual subsistence catches by indigenous Arctic peoples ranged from about 3,000 to 16,000 walruses per year until about 1990, and then decreased to an average of 5,789 animals per year from 1996 to 2000. Some scientists predict that, without long-term management, natural and human-related mortality factors could rapidly reduce the population once more.
    • Currently the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the Russian Knipovich Polar Research Institute are jointly undertaking a walrus population study. Using infrared imaging they locate walrus groups hauled out on sea ice. High resolution digital photography allows researchers to estimate group numbers. They also use satellite telemetry to estimate the percentage of the population visible during counts

So now we’ve got the info as well! Although I notice that this info refers to 1990 counts, and one must assume that there have been wide variations in population since then. Very likely an overall reduction I’m afraid. EDIT 4/7/2011: Looks like the revised numbers have the current Pacific Walrus numbers at only 180,000 animals. When I find the official update report, I will repost the correct and latest numbers.

Adults Only! Walrus babies the goal of new scientific research

Photo: Karen T Borchers, San Jose Mercury News

The folks at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA are trying to breed walruses. This is a challenge. Why? Well, according to marine mammal reproductive physiologist Holley Muraco….

The love lives of Pacific Walruses have long been shrouded in secrecy. They mate underwater, at remote, vast and icy habitats, during the Arctic Circle’s longest and darkest nights.

And there is growing concern for their survival because sea ice is melting. Zoos don’t want to collect from these perilous wild populations, and seek instead to increase the genetic diversity of their captive populations.

In the eight decades that walruses have been kept captive, only 11 babies have been born; of those, merely six survived. Fewer than 20 now exist in American zoos, and many are aging, Muraco said.

An then it gets… interesting… So if you’re in the mood to break up your day reading about the R&D process behind manufacturing a walrus sex-toy that allows for some REALLY impressive girth… Like I said – this one’s not for the kids!

Here’s the link to the full article on the Mercury News Site which includes a nice photo gallery:

Random Walrus Fact of the Day

Modern walruses do not use their teeth to chew molluscs like sea otters do. Instead, they hold a clam in their lips, and the vaulted palate allows them to use their tongue as a powerful piston to suck the soft parts right out of the clam shell. The shell is then dropped to the seafloor, never entering the oral cavity.

From the Wikipedia entry for “Imagotaria downsi” an extinct species of  walrus.

Dreaming of a walrus? What does it mean?

So what does it mean to dream of a walrus? Funny you should ask, since according to the The Dream Moods Dictionary, to see a walrus in your dreams means the following:

To see a walrus in your dream, represents your display of dominance in some situation or relationship. You are always on the lookout for anybody who is trying to out-maneuver, out-rank, or out-wit you. Alternatively, the walrus represents your protective shell and  thick-skin. You do not let the comments/criticism of others get to you.

For Eskimos and Native Americans in the North, the walrus symbolizes supernatural ability and power.

Now you know.

More dream interpretation can be found at The Dream Moods Dictionary.

What Does a Walrus Sound Like?

Despite what you may have heard, walruses do NOT say “Koo Koo Ka Choo” although you wouldn’t know it by the frequency at which that phrase is posted to Twitter. In actuality, a walrus sounds a little like “Chewbacca” from Star Wars or more accurately, the other way around. Walrus make a variety of grunting and whistling sounds, they do NOT bark like sea lions. Hear and see for yourself

Here’s a “soundboard” of various walrus sounds as well. Now you know!

Queue this up for “Survivor: Greenland”

Or somewhere far north like that. I’ve accidentally stumbled upon the term “Igunak” in my ongoing walrus fact-exploring. What is it, you ask? Well, I’ll leave it to intrepid reporter Jackie S Quire who explains on her blog, “A Journey Northwards

So while I never really had any interest in trying igunak… I did, unintentionally, last night… and I will probably not partake again. I tried it. Then covertly hid what was left in the pouch of my hoodie, and disposed of it in the washroom. I don’t think I fooled anyone though, haha.

Here’s a link to the entire post, with her experience. I think I’ll leave this one to the locals, and of course, the reality TV comtestants.