The enormous Walrus is the third largest pinniped species, and can only be found around the Arctic Circle. Luckily, we have the unique opportunity of seeing this species in its natural environment in Europe, by just taking a visit to Svalbard archipelago at Norway's northernmost limits.
This amazing marine mammal is catalogued as 'Vulnerable' by the IUCN Red List of threatened species and protected in Svalbard since 1952, as current global population level is not known and it faces growing threats. Some of these are human disturbance in their habitat (they are highly susceptible), and the reduction in seasonal sea ice cover quality (timing, extent and characteristics) due to global warming, leaving unfavourable ice conditions for feeding, pupping and breeding, therefore affecting their reproductive success.
The Walrus can grow up to 3.6m and weigh up to 1,560kg, males being larger than females, and calves are born already reaching up to 85kg and 1.3m! Their huge fat-filled bulky body is covered by a brown fur coat. They have a small head with small eyes, a flat broad muzzle with many short stiff sensory whiskers (called mustacial vibrissae), but also their characteristic enormous external tusks, which can grow up to 1m and 5kg in males!
They are very sociable and gregarious, usually found on land/ice in tight groups of tens to many hundreds of individuals and foraging for bivalve molluscs in shallow coastal waters. They have their pups around April-June, so we recommend you go and see them during summer when they haul out in big aggregations. Mating season is in winter (December-January) and this is the time to see those iconic male-male fights using their huge tusks and males defending a small territory in the water and performing vocal & visual displays, to win not only a high position in the hierarchy but of course the female's attention.