- Common Name:
- Scientific Name:
- Odobenus rosmarus
- Group Name:
- Average Life Span In The Wild:
- Up to 40 years
- 7.25 to 11.5 feet
- Up to 1.5 tons
Walruses have wrinkled brown and pink skin, long, coarse whiskers, flat flippers, and lots of blubber on their bodies to keep them warm in the cold Arctic water. They can slow down their heartbeat to withstand the chilly water temperatures and to help them stay under water for as long as ten minutes.
Their long tusks are useful in many ways. They use them to pull their enormous bodies out of frigid waters, and seem to walk on their tusks. They also use their tusks to break breathing holes into ice from below. Tusks are found on both males and females and keep growing throughout their lives. These tusks are actually canine teeth and can grow to be about three feet (one meter) long. Their whiskers are very sensitive and help the walruses find their favorite meals, such as clams, way down in the deep, dark ocean floor. Their whiskers are longest at the corners of their mouth.
Only Native Americans are currently allowed to hunt walruses, as the species' survival was threatened by past overhunting. Hunters in the 18th and 19th centuries captured walruses for their tusks, oil, skin, and meat and now there aren’t any walruses in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and around Sable Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia.