Online Walrus Resources: USGS and Biological

Two great pages with lots of Walrus info, and in the case of the USGS, the Pacific Walrus International Database (PWID), described as:

The Pacific Walrus International Database (PWID) is a comprehensive set of Pacific walrus biological data collected by several participating organizations in the Bering and Chukchi Seas. Data compilation was focused on abundance and distribution data, however, other types of data are included. Data categories include: land and ice haulout counts, sex/age composition, reproduction, mortality, harvest statistics, and morphometry. As of September 1998, the database includes reference to 33 data sets. The PWID includes metadata for every data set, but for some data sets the data may have been retained by the data owner.

There are a lot of research-oriented walrus resources here. Note being familiar with this type of government-run site, I’m impressed with the amount of data available. Looks like a solid resource for anyone whose interest in Walrus requires some deep data.

Here’s the USGS walrus info page:

If your interest runs more towards conservation and endangered species concerns, you should visit the Pacific Walrus page at the Center for Biological Diversity. Here is the mission statement from their website:

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

Here’s the information page on the Pacific Walrus :

The page includes a link to…wait for it… A Pacific Walrus cellphone ringtone! (signup required)

The Morse: A Blast from the past

The Walrus, from
The Walrus, from

I’ve always found it fascinating to read textbooks about animals, people or places that were written back in the 1800’s (or earlier) since there was so much colorful speculation used in place of actual science. Plus, I really enjoy the engravings that are found in works of that era. So I found myself thinking, on the way to lunch today, “I wonder if I can find a book with an account of the first recorded observations of a walrus?” That may be a tall order – I’ll start a quest – but I certainly did find an antique account of Walrus, thanks to Harvard University and the Google book digitization project.

The Naturalist’s Library from 1857 (well, this edition of what looks to be an expansive series) tells us:

The name of sea cow, or sea horse, by which the walrus is most generally known, has been very wrongly applied ; since the animal which it denotes has not the least resemblance to the land animals of that name: the denomination of sea elephant, which others have given it, is much better imagined, as it is founded on a singular and very apparent character.

and later…

Captain Cook saw a herd of them floating on an ice island off the northern coasts of the American continent. ” They lie,” says he, ” in herds of many hundreds, upon the ice, huddling over one another like swine ; and roar or bray so loud, that in the night, or in foggy weather, they gave us notice of the vicinity of the ice before we could see it. We never found the whole herd asleep, some being always on the watch.”

These are just a  few select quotes. Take a look at the whole passage at the link below – it’s only about two pages, but it’s an interesting read. You’ll note that the “scientific” facts cited are clearly drawn from, and directed towards, hunters.

Here’s a link to page 210 of The Naturalist’s Library, 1857, edited by Augustus Addison Gould